In an adolescent who needs money, is
In American Beauty Kevin Spacey who plays Lester lives a typical middle class lifewith his family. His wife is having an affair, his rebellious daughter doesnt talk to him andhis neighbors are psycho.
In contrast The Bicycle Thief portrays a tight family. Riccis wifeloves him, his behaved son talks to him and his neighbors are helpful when a crises occurs. In both of these films the main characters, Lester and Ricci, go through what I call aresponsibility stage. Both must make a life changing experience, either good or bad, thatwill have an effect on the people around them.Lester decides to make a few changes in his rut of life, changes that are lessmid-life and more adolescence like.1 While he slowly goes through these changes on filmone can see that the more responsibility he gives up the more happy he becomes. What hegives up to make him happy, though, only makes his family more hateful towards him.
Itisnt that he gave up his responsibilities to improve his relationship with his daughter orimprove it with his wife but to be selfish and gratify himself from what he lost when hewas young. He does reckless and foolish things in this movie, but he doesnt deceivehimself, he knows hes running wild–and choose to..2 He let these feelings over powerhim and he almost let this irresponsibility get the best of him when he found himself alonewith his daughters best friend.
Its perfectly natural to have feelings like he has toward herbut there came a time with him when he saw what he was going to do was not right. Sohe refrained and actually gained a friend. (After he has been losing people left and right) His ability to refrain from his actions made him a stronger person in the eyes of Angela, hisUnlike Lester, Riccio, from The Bicycle Thief , does not have a job. His mainconcern, like that of an adolescent who needs money, is to get a job. His responsibility istowards his family. He is in a constant state of depression because nothing ever goes hisway.
His family is supportive unlike Lesters. But his desire for responsibility is driven byclass and economic need.3 So his desire to get the bike back that was stolen from himturns into a family and friend hunt. His son Bruno is with him through the entire search.
Finally Ricci decides he has had enough of looking for the bike and says to his son, Youlive you suffer, to hell with it. You want a pizza? This kind of attitude made me think thathe was over being mad at the person who stole it and they might as well just make the bestof what was left of the day with each other. But when they are eating he notices what theother people are eating. He said to his son who also noticed that, You need a million yireto eat like that. Which sparked back up in him the hateful feelings toward the person whostole his bike.
Instead of being the better person, like Lester was with Angela, Ricci letshis anguish get the best of him and steals someone elses bike. He let down his moralobligation towards his son when he decided to do this. His son realized this and keptasking him, Why daddy? Unlike Lester, Ricci did not gain any respect, he lost therespect of everyone and his irresponsibility made him weak in the eyes of his son.Both Lester and Ricci live in a world were they are constantly being judge bysociety and people close to them. In The Bicycle Thief Ricci and his son are a church withthe homeless of Rome.
Although they are middle class their rugged clothes make themlook like they are homeless and need food and that is how the people around them treatthem. They say to Ricci and his son, soup will be served after the sermon please sit downuntil then. In American Beauty Lester is at a cheesy Realtors conference with his wife,who looks down on him because he is not up to her standards of being successful.
Shetells him to act a certain way because a top Realtor was going to be there and she wouldlike to impress him because this Realtor is her standard of success. Both Lester and Ricciscam their way to get what they needed. Ricci lied and said he had a bike when he reallydidnt at that moment.
It was at the pawn shop. Lester blackmailed his boss for a yearssalary. Then he told his family what he did.What makes both of these incidences specialis that in a time of crises one family, Riccis, pulled through to help him. While Lesters satback and mocked him and did nothing to help him out of his rut.
To sum it all up Ricci throughout his search encounters indifference to humanityand incivility of others.4 Ricci fights within himself to be the better person but only endsup in internal conflict with himself. He loses his respect for himself and we are astonishedby his indecency toward other people of Riccis same impoverished disposition. On theother hand American Beauty dabbles with the question how uncivil and inhuman cansomeone lower themselves to over a short period of time. But Lester proves us wrong.
His obsession with Angela in the end turns into an act of humanism and civility towardssomeone who is naive. Both of these main characters traits, at some point in everyoneslife, have delivered or even taught a lesson about refraining from some sort of action thatcould end up in consequences that are defiant against ones own code of conduct orBibliography: