Hot tears splashed down her face and wet the tips of her collar . ‘If they’re hot they’re the fatigue tears’, Margo would always say. A random and sudden desire to laugh, instant confusion and a white hot pining for home flashed through her system, as she mindlessly played with the tears that still silently fell. It wasn’t the fact that she was dreadfully alone. It wasn’t the pain of dejection. She craved that universe that she’d left. She resented every moment that passed, repeating that redundant thought over and over- It was time to go home.
I learned a lot of lessons from the movie American Beauty. So plain and honest. If you haven’t watched it, stop reading here, major spoiler alert. Its lessons were very straight forward. I often speculate about how dis functionality is a hot topic for entertainment. It can be through humor. It can be through depression. It can be the irony in the real world, a parody of the perfect world; but dis functionality as a theme can never go wrong.
So this movie chooses dark humor. And works so well. A multitude of relevant messages. Despite so many more amazing ones to choose from, my favourite is the one that most of us forget so often. The one about mutual respect and love. We all continuously wonder about relationships making it through the test of time. Not time which is a function of distance, but real time. Continuous together-ness and the oxy-moronic ensconced ennui, are the real tests of love and relationships. These are the real tests of our own zest for life, even. Which is what the movie tries to tell us through Kevin Spacey’s role. The man has a way of conveying to us in those annoyingly lewd scenes, all his boredom of comfort, his apathy towards his love-life, his incestuous feelings for his daughter’s friend that seem to be a manifestation of his original need for his daughter, it’s a different brand of magic.
While every character strives to fight against conformity, while trying to fit in themselves, the movie argues both sides of the case so poignantly, there’s an actual cascade of reactions in your head when it ends. You find it so hard to choose what to react to. The irony in the ability to abjure material possessions and ‘rebel’ , only because you still have the money to? The repression that can only be explained by and also solved by a routine? The sexual awakening Spacey’s character Lester feels when he meets Angela, which is abruptly replaced by his protective instinct for her vulnerability as a ‘virgin’ ? Is that all he needed? Need? The homo-sexually repressed martinet father whose feelings for Lester seem to be a manifestation of his manner with his own son? This list is not exhaustive.
And yet, the message everybody seems to be screaming everywhere in the movie seems to be, that while all of us struggle so hard to keep up with ourselves, it is so important to make sure that we believe in the best of ourselves, and not forget the reasons we wanted to be ourselves in the first place. To not forget basic kindness and the happiness we feel.
Human beings are animals. Our only evolutionary, biological emotions are disgust, hatred, fear and anger and lust. And yet, the ‘contrived’ emotions seem to rule our real lives. I love the movie because it shows us that eternal struggle between these two types. And that indefinable rebellion against what we truly seek by throwing away what we have. Only to realise that there is no mythical end if you want happiness. Peace, is a different ball game.
So to sum it all up, I am glad my Mum didn’t let me watch the movie when it actually came out and I watched it years later when I was capable of being evoked to react. Mothers are always right. Speaking of mothers,
‘There was a time I used to pray
I have always kept my faith in love
It’s the greatest thing from the man above’
– Just my Imagination, Cranberries
Until next time, keep singing.