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American Beauty

59. American Beauty (1999)

This delightful dark dramedy is in my opinion still one of the most interesting and memorable representations of unsatisfying suburbian life.

I saw this movie for the first time way back when I was 8 or 9 years old. My parents had purchased the DVD and the sensual cover immediately intrigued me. One evening, when there was a party in the neighborhood that my parents attended, I was home alone and I decided to take the film up to my room and watch it (back then I had a television in my room, which was awesome). Needless to say, this was one of the more 'adult' films I'd seen at that period of my life. I was strangely captivated by this film's hypnotic atmosphere and story. I was obviously too young to understand all of the subtlety of what was going on and some things naturally came across as 'strange', but all in all the uniqueness and beauty of the film touched me. This film was a mystery that I didn't fully understand yet at that age, but the watching experience always stayed with me.

Years later, when I was starting to profile myself as a cinephile, I suddenly came across American Beauty again. I took that same DVD of the shelf and rewatched it. The film's dark, but heartfelt magic enchanted me just as it did all those years ago and probably because of my prior viewing experience, it had a strangely nostalgic effect on me too. It always reminds me of that 'turn of the millennium' time period.
I don't know how to put this into words, but the bright sun on those white houses, the soft, but very noticeable cinematography, the girl lying in a bath of red rose petals and the hypnotizing music score somehow make me feel very 'aware' of reality. The film tackles a various string of dramatic topics, but it observes it all with a deep sense of beauty. It observes unhappiness in a nihilistic, provocative, venomous, but strangely optimistic manner. I love it.

American Beauty is a film that I will definitely revisit a couple more times during my lifetime, preferably alone on a summer night, somewhere in the middle of a suburbian neighborhood...