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questions about the film "American Beauty"

 
 
Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2016 06:38 pm
Hello, I am studying the film "American Beauty (1999)" at school, and although I thought the overall film was okay, I was really confused about the relationship between Jane and Ricky.

Isn't Ricky a stalker?
Why did Jane fall in love with him when he was so creepy?
I know Jane just liked the attention but doesn't this promote that stalking is okay?
And at the end of the film Jane learnt to accept herself and realise she is beautiful, but did she really need a boy to be able to change?

Thanks
 
chai2
 
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Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2016 08:07 pm
@jettrink,
I never thought Ricky was a stalker. He just marches to his own drummer, and lives life by his terms.

Look at his relationship with his father. He knows that instead of fighting him, as most people might do, he plays like he agrees with him, which keeps his father off his back, and leaves him to live his life the way he sees fit. Ricky will always make his way in the world, as he has learned the secret of getting people to see him the way they want.

However, I don't believe he is a phycopath. He feels beauty, he feels love. He doesn't stalk Jane, he patiently waits for her to come around. He's just eccentric. I just looked up a character analysis of him, and the term schitzoid came up. Personally, I wouldn't call him that, he's just different. In my mind, he and Jane are the most mentally healthy people in the movie. Not that that's saying a lot.

I also don't think Jane was just wanting attention, she truly appreciates Ricky for who he is.

Finally, I never got the impression she needed Ricky as a male per se to help her find acceptance of herself. She needed an example.

If this is for homework, I don't know if my interpretation is correct. It's just how I feel about those characters.

I also don't know your age, but this is definately a film that should be watched several times, time years between.

The feelings and thoughts it would evoke would be very different in a 16 year old, a 22 year old, a 30, 45 and 55 year old person.

I'm at the upper range of that, at 57. I first watched the film when it came out, when I was in my mid 40's. I see it quite differently than I did 15-17 years ago.
Doubtless, I would have gotten a completely different interpretation if I had seen it as a teenager, or a 30 year old.

Not saying it's impossible, but I would think it would be more difficult for a 20 year old to feel what the wife, or husband was going through. At the same time, watching the neediness of the best friend comes with a completely different level of understanding depending on your age. Some people might have forgotten what it's like being that age, others will remember.

For what it's worth, it's a complex film. Don't sell it short.
chai2
 
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Reply Tue 5 Apr, 2016 08:29 pm
Just thinking, perhaps at another age I would have thought of him as more of a stalker, a bit scary/frightening.

When I first saw the movie, I was a bit wary at first, then comfortable.

Now, I see someone different, even if he is schitzoid as speculated, but that's just fine. What I do admire was he was rather fearless, not afraid to be different, not worried about "what if"
0 Replies
 
snood
 
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Reply Wed 6 Apr, 2016 09:25 am
I chose to write a paper about this movie as an undergrad. I think Ricky makes Jane feel special in a way that is real, not the cheap, surface kind of "special" that her friend Angela brags about. I think she really is doubtful about him at first, when he's making her name in flames and filming her, but when she sees him face to face I think she feels like she sees her for who she really is. I think that when he showed her the recording he made of the piece of paper 'dancing' she believed that he cares and feels deeply about life, and she likes that.
0 Replies
 
coluber2001
 
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Reply Wed 6 Apr, 2016 12:58 pm
I read the screenplay, and it differed somewhat from the movie. It opens with Ricky and Jane on trial for the murder of the Kevin Spacey character, Jane's father.

As you recall, Ricky was videotaping Jane. She was talking about her father, about how much she disliked his behavior, and he asks her if she wants him to kill her
father. She replies, "yes." After he turns the camera off, he say, "You know I'm kidding, right?" "Yes," she responds.

So they look guilty, because of the videotape.
chai2
 
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Reply Wed 6 Apr, 2016 01:17 pm
@coluber2001,
Wow coluber, I did not know that, about the screenplay, and them being on trial. That makes more sense about the comment she made.

Snood, the plastic bag dancing? That scene is so beautiful.



0 Replies
 
jettrink
 
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Reply Wed 6 Apr, 2016 04:01 pm
@chai2,
Hello, thanks for your reply. I thought it was really interesting getting to hear other people's opinions. I am a highschool student, who is around the same age is Jane. That might be why I had so many questions. I guess analyzing a character who is the same age as you is completely different from analyzing someone who is much younger.
chai2
 
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Reply Wed 6 Apr, 2016 05:51 pm
@jettrink,
Or analyzing someone that is older than you.

I'd be interested on your take of the older characters, particularly Janes mother and father.

Be honest.
coluber2001
 
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Reply Wed 13 Apr, 2016 12:44 pm
@chai2,
As I recall from the script, the psychotic neighbor--Chris Cooper character--while in Vietnam had a homosexual affair. In the movie there is a very short clip of a photograph that hints at this, but, I think the script more or less states it, though I'm not positive I remember correctly. So the guilt may be some of the cause of his overreaction to gays, ie., his homophobia.

snood
 
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Reply Wed 13 Apr, 2016 01:02 pm
@coluber2001,
coluber2001 wrote:

As I recall from the script, the psychotic neighbor--Chris Cooper character--while in Vietnam had a homosexual affair. In the movie there is a very short clip of a photograph that hints at this, but, I think the script more or less states it, though I'm not positive I remember correctly. So the guilt may be some of the cause of his overreaction to gays, ie., his homophobia.



How did you come to get to read the script?
coluber2001
 
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Reply Thu 21 Apr, 2016 12:25 pm
@snood,
Years ago I bought a computer disc that had a lot of stories and some movie scripts.
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
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Reply Thu 21 Apr, 2016 12:30 pm
@snood,
snood wrote:

coluber2001 wrote:

As I recall from the script, the psychotic neighbor--Chris Cooper character--while in Vietnam had a homosexual affair. In the movie there is a very short clip of a photograph that hints at this, but, I think the script more or less states it, though I'm not positive I remember correctly. So the guilt may be some of the cause of his overreaction to gays, ie., his homophobia.



How did you come to get to read the script?

They also published the script in hardcover book form. I had a copy for year's (never read it though). I believe I ended up donating it to the NYPL a couple of year's ago.
0 Replies
 
 

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