Frank, Lester and Lt. Colonel Frank are all middle-aged men who experience existential crisis. This crisis is caused by their lives being dull. They see that their prime time in life has passed and they develop new personal characteristics. This is triggered by specific events around them that make them behave in a way that puzzles the people around them. Deeply down they are unhappy and that is why they behave in a strange and inappropriate way to bring back their youth. They don’t even feel responsible for their actions.
There are shared traits among the three characters. Lester wants to live the same way as when he was eighteen. Angela is his temptation. He knows that he should resist it, but he can’t help his urges. Because of Angela he starts to work out again, so her purpose is to encourage his motivation. Lester doesn’t have his life figured out. He has trouble with his boss, his doesn’t understand his daughter and his wife treats him bad. He needs to gain control over his life. Frank is different than Lester but he is also going through a crisis. His situation is similar because he lost his job, and has problems with his daughter. He is ill and he is irritated by the media system of America. All of this drives him insane and he tries to kill himself. However, he gives up on that because he wants to kill the people who irritate him first. He meets Roxy who joins him on his killing spree. Lt. Colonel Frank is retired from the army. He is blind and a difficult person. Charlie, who needs money, agrees to take care of him during Thanksgiving. Frank wants to indulge in luxury before killing himself. After many events and much trouble, Charlie manages to help Frank and Frank helps him as well. They encourage each other’s future. What is similar among the three characters is that all of them are miserable and thinking about suicides. However, something happens that prevents them from doing it. Lt. Colonel Frank and Lester straighten up their lives, unlike Frank.
The general ethic umbrella under which these stories play out is related to the absurdity of life. Man is entitled to pursue his happiness and during that process many people get into the situations they never expected. They can’t bear to have their dreams crushed, so they become aggressive towards themselves as well as towards other people. That is not the way to solve problems because destruction can only lead to more destruction.
These characters are moral and troubled. They are not inhumane because they show that they care about the people they are close to. Lester cares about his daughter, Frank cares about his also and Lt. Colonel Frank is worried about the future of Charlie. Being influential he helps him with his problems at school. Moral decadence comes with the lack of money and other privileges or with the abundance of those. In this case, there are no poor people, just people who are unhappy with their lives, who lost control over everything. That is why they are suicidal.
These characters are good because they show that they care about what is most important in their lives. They redeem themselves by helping those who are in need. That is why they are moral deep inside. These three characters are those who have the crisis because they expected more from their lives and didn’t get it. They are too smart to be able to deal with that in a rational way. Therefore, they lose their common sense.
Goldsmith, Bobcat, dir. God Bless America. Magnolia Pictures, 2011. Film.
Mendes, Sam, dir. American Beauty. DreamWorks Pictures, 1992. Film.
Brest, Martin, dir. Scent of a Woman. Universal Pictures, 1992. Film.