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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

10 years of Flick Filosopher: lots of feedback for ‘American Beauty’

Few of my reviews have generated as much reader mail as my commentary on American Beauty, though to be fair, I think it’s the film itself that is so mind-blowing, not my simple analysis of it:

Then — in what appears at first to be typical Boomer midlife crisis form — Lester is awakened from his “20-year coma” by a newfound lust for Angela (Mena Suvari), Jane’s slutty, sex-crazed friend, a pouty blonde who plans on being a model. Though Lester’s daydreams about Angela have an almost old-fashioned sweetness about them, he’s still pretty disgusting, though Jane is the only one who seems to discern that; Angela, though she keeps her distance from Lester, thinks he’s “cute.” (The audience with whom I saw American Beauty unfortunately seemed to think Lester was pretty cool, as well.)

Looking back, I think we can see American Beauty as a sort of generational passing of the torch, as Boomer attitudes about success and conformity were starting to give way to a looser, more self-sufficient Xer outlook, which makes even more sense when you consider that Spacey is kinda on the cusp between Boomers and Xers, as is writer Alan Ball; director Sam Mendes is unquestionably an Xer.

review of American Beauty, posted 10.03.99

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  • Er, the fact that Boomers are today associated with success and conformity despite having a rep for nonconformity back in the 1960s kinda suggests that someday the Gen Xers will have the same rep that Boomers have today.

    But then as Riff in “West Side Story” so aptly pointed out, I was never your age.;-)

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