Thursday, 28 July 2011

Best Actor 1999: Kevin Spacey in American Beauty

Kevin Spacey won his second Oscar from his second nomination for portraying Lester Burnham in American Beauty.

American Beauty details the lives of a family of suburbanites who are either shallow and materialistic, or harvest some sort of deep pain.

Kevin Spacey portrays Lester Burnham the suburban husband, who is considered pathetic by both his wife and his daughter. Spacey in these early moments is quite good in portraying these early moments. Spacey properly conveys his detrimental state in life, and his the way he is now basically sleepwalking through life. Spacey as well is quite good in showing his facade that he holds, he perhaps lays it on a bit thickly, but that works well for Lester, since it properly portrays how he has been doing this for so long, it is not really the most natural of facades, and it again it reinforces just the terrible condition he is in as a person.

Lester though soon enough begins to become more confidant, and begins to relive his youth, working at a fast food place, as well as pursue his lusts after his daughter's friend. This should be Spacey's moment to really shine as Lester Burnham but unfortunately for me the problems of his performance come out in these scenes. My major problem with the performance is much of Spacey's deliveries seems a bit forced, and unnatural in the role, a particularly grating example for me is when he pronounces that "I Rule!" after purchasing a car he always wanted. Now the problem here is he really should become more natural here, because he is getting rid of the facade, but he doesn't. 

I do not want to be too negative because Spacey certainly has his moments, his transition into the confidence, and a better view of himself, with small indicative reactions are very well handled. His unnaturalness though for most of his later performance, seems off to me though, and fails to have as much power as it should have. This performance actually for me has become like the film itself. Although there are certianly strengths and moments of power in the performance and the film, the overall effect of the performance and the film is hindered by the method used by the film and Spacey to portray it.

7 comments:

dshultz said...

Woah dude! I liked him a lot more than you did, that's for sure! I'm guessing that Mr. Crowe will be the winner in this year then.

dshultz said...

Oh, by the way, can you do a review of Viggo Mortensen's performance in "A History of Violence" sometime soon?

Anonymous said...

I hope Farnsworth wins

mrripley said...

I think 1999 is a bit weak really but Spacey is streets ahead only Crowe matches him but The Insider is so glum but contains the best supporting perf from 99 in Christopher Plummer.

Sage Slowdive said...

Farnsworth cannot be beat!

Louis Morgan said...

dshultz: I am working out something to do with performances like that one.

Dhiraj said...

Spacey's natural home as a screen actor is malevolent pathology. In other roles he is superb, even Oscar worthy, but his magnetism is at its unparalleled best when he is gallivanting in the dark territory with his amoral smirk.
http://modernartists.blogspot.com/2011/10/kevin-spacey-moral-ambiguity-at-its.html