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American Beauty Ending Explained: Know More About the Movie!

Sam Mendes is the master of intimate drama. By comparing the tensions, the staging, the set pieces, and the dialogues that surround them in Mendes’ films “American Beauty” and “Revolutionary Road,” it’s not hard to see that he comes from a theatrical background, and his knowledge of the craft is similarly unmistakable.

Although Mendes’ oeuvre has expanded to include epic war dramas and two blockbuster Bond films, I want to focus on two of his most moving pictures for me—Revolutionary Road and American Beauty—and go more deeply into the latter.

The two movies have many same themes. Both ‘American Beauty’ and ‘Revolutionary Road’ serve as compelling case studies and critiques of the American Middle Class and the domestic struggles hidden behind broken marriages, unpaid mortgages, the temporary allure of infidelity, the fear and pressure of raising children in such an environment, and, of course, the American dream itself.

It’s as though the shattered people living in these duplexes have rendered obsolete the American suburbia ideal promoted by billboards and outdoor to-let signs for so long.

Despite the uncanny similarity between the two films’ settings, it’s worth noting that the themes of home and marital strife and a midlife crisis, which play prominent roles in ‘American Beauty,’ are universal in scope.

I think that’s what ‘American Beauty’ captures beautifully and, if I may use stronger language, heartbreakingly; and how Mendes manages to do so while retaining all of these properties in his narrative that makes the film experience what it is, is actually the man’s craft; something for which I am in complete awe.

Even more intriguing is the fact that several such films, including “Magnolia,” “Fight Club,” and this one, were released within noticeably short periods of time around the turn of the century (and the millennium), all of which ridiculed the false ideal of corporate consumerism and the image of a perfect life and urged viewers to look for more, simply more.

For one, “Fight Club” reminds me uncannily of “American Beauty,” but without the uber-cool preaching and ultra-violence that characterizes the latter. Most people would probably think I was crazy to compare “Fight Club” with “American Beauty,” but if you look at their concepts instead of their structures, you’ll see that this comparison has some validity.

So, now that we’ve set the backdrop for a fruitful debate, let’s delve into what the conclusion of “American Beauty” means to you.

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The Ending

The tensions that have been building throughout the film finally explode as Birch and Bentley make their escape. Lester is now able to publicly declare his desire for the girl of his youth.

The Suvari character brags about her sexual independence throughout the film, telling her somewhat shocked friends intimate information about her sexual life. In the end, she admits to Lester that her seeming self-assurance was only an act and that she is, in fact, a young woman who is vulnerable to the pressures imposed by the gaze of men like him.

She might pass as his kid, she’s that young. Almost immediately, Lester begins to feel guilty about his choices.

Chris Cooper’s strict neighbor, who plays Bentley’s father, misunderstood past chats with Lester and concluded that he was coming out as gay and that Cooper should, too. Cooper’s actions fuel his already blazing animus, prompting him to go back to Lester armed.

After death, Lester gives his last commentary. Annette Bening always appears to come out on the losing end. She herself had previously found release in an affair with Peter Gallagher.

When she learns that Lester is dead, she begins to cry uncontrollably. In the film, this is her last scene. If only she’d taken a second to pause and think about it, that’d have been great.

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With that, the film “American Beauty” ends. Success is a trap, everyone is full of profound unhappiness, and for some people, suicide is the only way out of their miserable lives in the suburbs.

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