Thursday, December 20, 2007
I recently watched American Beauty again, and remembered what touched me about it the first time I saw the film. It is a flawed jewel, but it works. You can read/download the script here. I have witnessed people in my life make incredible transformations. At least one of them nearly identically echoes the plot of American Beauty, sans the killing. The central thrust of the film is: "It's never too late to get it back." Some quotes from the movie:
Lester: (amused) Look at me, jerking off in the shower. (then) This will be the high point of my day. It's all downhill from here.
Lester: Both my wife and daughter think I'm this gigantic loser, and they're right. I have lost something. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I know I didn't always feel this sedated. But you know what? It's never too late to get it back.
Lester: It's a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. Makes you wonder what else you can do that you've forgotten about.
Carolyn: Lester, you're going to spill beer on the couch.
Lester: So what? It's just a couch.
Carolyn: This is a four thousand dollar sofa upholstered in Italian silk. This is not "just a couch."
Lester: It's just a couch! This isn't life. This is just stuff. And it's become more important to you than living. Well, honey, that's just nuts.
Lester: Remember those posters that said, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life?" Well, that's true of every day except one - the day you die.
Lester Burnham: I feel like I've been in a coma for the past twenty years. And I'm just now waking up.
Brad Dupree: Man, you are one twisted fuck.
Lester Burnham: Nope, I'm just an ordinary guy with nothing to lose.
Carolyn Burnham: Your father and I were just discussing his day at work. Why don't you tell our daughter about it, honey?
Lester Burnham: Janie, today I quit my job. And then I told my boss to go fuck himself, and then I blackmailed him for almost sixty thousand dollars. Pass the asparagus.
Carolyn Burnham: Your father seems to think this type of behavior is something to be proud of. Lester Burnham: And your mother seems to prefer I go through life like a fucking prisoner while she keeps my dick in a mason jar under the sink.
Carolyn Burnham: How dare you speak to me that way in front of her. And I marvel that you can be so contemptuous of me, on the same day that you LOSE your job.
Lester Burnham: Lose it? I didn't lose it. It's not like, "Whoops! Where'd my job go?" I QUIT. Someone pass me the asparagus.
Lester Burnham: I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life.
Lester Burnham: Brad, for 14 years I've been a whore for the advertising industry. The only way I could save myself now is if I start firebombing.
Lester Burnham: [narrating] I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn't a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time... For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars... And yellow leaves, from the maple trees, that lined my street... Or my grandmother's hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper... And the first time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new Firebird... And Janie... And Janie... And... Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday.
Lester Burnham: My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood; this is my street; this is my life. I am 42 years old; in less than a year I will be dead. Of course I don't know that yet, and in a way, I am dead already.
Lester Burnham: [narrating] Janie's a pretty typical teenager. Angry, insecure, confused. I wish I could tell her that's all going to pass, but I don't want to lie to her.