American Beauty is one of the most depressing, yet pointless movies I've ever seen. It's well made (acting, directing, cinematography), but the story and the dialog is over-simplified, highly unrealistic, stereotipical and preachy.
Perhaps because I too am not an American, but of European background, I couldn't for the life of me identify with any of the characters. Spoilt and vacant is the only way I can describe them. And yes, this is somewhat the point of the movie, or is it? What is it's point? That life the way we (or Americans) are taught to strive for (nice house, job, car, child) is so meaningless, empty and rotten, that we'll either go insane or want to be dead?
"There's nothing worse than being ordinary" repeated over and over throughout. As if being one of the 98% of the population who are normal, average, "ordinary" people is like having a disgusting disease. Unless you have some sort of talent or individuality (which of course, none of these characters do) you're destined to remain "ordinary", but there's nothing wrong with that.
It tries to be realistic, but ends up being the opposite, yes it's portraying suburban life, but the way these characters carry themsleves is incredibly cliched and anything but realistic. First, let's take Ricky Fitts. There's no way that a boy who'd been locked up in a mental institution for 18 months (which is unrealistic again, because they don't just take anyone with a behavioral problem, you have to have a legitimate mental illness -which he didn't) and with such a ruthless, cold, dominating father would grow up so stable and confident. In reality he would be at least shy, withdrawn and introverted. And as for him being a drug dealer? Now that's stretching it too far. Addict is more like it.
It's also very irresponsible in that it's unnecessarily misleading. Jane: "I wish someone would just put him out of his misery" Ricky: "would you like me to kill him for you?" we know they're not serious, but they talk about it as if it was no big deal, as if there were no consequences. And Ricky being such a suave drug dealer, would he be so stupid as to risk getting 20 years to life if he got caught dealing? And again, at the end when 'Colonel' Frank kills Lester, why? just because he embarassed himself in front of Lester? So? Is that reason enough to kill? In real life, no. But in movies, yes. Perhaps this is why American kids are so trigger and drug happy, because on TV/in movies, they're shown that it's cool, there's nothing wrong with it (murder) and that there are no consequences.
That's why American Beauty and movies like it disgust me. It's trying too hard to be cool, and ends up being foolish propaganda. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but I seriously dislike this movie.