American Beauty is a American drama film written by Alan Ball and directed by Sam Mendes , in his feature directorial debut. Kevin Spacey stars as Lester Burnham, an advertising executive who has a midlife crisis when he becomes infatuated with his teenage daughter's best friend, played by Mena Suvari. Academics have described the film as a satire of American middle-class notions of beauty and personal satisfaction; further analysis has focused on the film's explorations of romantic and paternal love, sexuality, materialism, self-liberation, and redemption. Ball began writing American Beauty as a play in the early s, partly inspired by the media circus that accompanied the Amy Fisher trial in He shelved the play after realizing the story would not work on stage. After several years as a television screenwriter, Ball revived the idea in when attempting to break into the film industry. The rewritten script had a cynical outlook influenced by Ball's frustrating tenures writing for several sitcoms.
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Ricky Fitts : It's like God's looking right at you, just for a second, and if you're careful Jane Burnham : And what do you see? Ricky Fitts : Beauty. Carolyn Burnham : Are you trying to look unattractive? Jane Burnham : Yes. Carolyn Burnham : Well, congratulations.
Jane and Angela are watching television when they hear Jane's parents return. Jane tries to go upstairs without being spotted, but Angela insists on saying hi to Jane's dad. Lester is getting something out of the fridge when Angela surprises him in the kitchen and starts to flirt with him. She reaches out as if to take a root beer, and Lester watches her arm move towards him. The movement slows down, becoming dreamlike, and repeats several times.
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