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This paper examines the film "American Beauty" which offers a picture of the modern American family as a dysfunctional institution and a gender-unequal one as well. It discusses how it is one of many films in recent years suggesting that the ideal of the suburban way of life is false. It looks at the central issue of male-female relations in the film and how the two main characters are a husband and wife in a disintegrating marriage. The Burnhams barely speak to one another most of the time and when they do, they fight. It evaluates how the way the story of the Burnhams plays out says much about the state of family life in America today, about the social and sexual pressures which divide people and also about the roles of men and women in this society, both in terms of what seems to be expected of them and what they may really decide they want.
From the Paper:"The family described by Crittenden fits this pattern quite well. She makes the point that without the strong tradition of keeping the family together, husband and wife will remain together only so long as they still have "the very tenuous bonds of affection and sexual attraction" (Crittenden 70), which for Lester and Carolyn are bonds that no longer hold them together. Indeed, all that binds them together is their own inertia about making a move to change their situation. Each is looking elsewhere for what the marriage once gave them. Lester at the beginning of the film still holds the traditional role as breadwinner, but he abandons this when he is fired. He does get another job at a fast-food restaurant, but his wife has been pursuing a career in real estate at the same time, showing that she wants to assume the role of breadwinner and may soon not need Lester at all."
Cite this Film Review:
"American Beauty" (2003, June 26) Retrieved February 23, 2024, from https://www.academon.com/film-review/american-beauty-28376/
""American Beauty"" 26 June 2003. Web. 23 February. 2024. <https://www.academon.com/film-review/american-beauty-28376/>