Starring: William Fichtner, Jessica McNamee, Jean Louisa Kelly USA. 1h 45m
A quiet and unassuming man Mike (Fichtner) drifts through his morning routine, he writes technical manuals, his wife, Lisa (Kelly) is an ambitious teacher, they barely cross each others path, with little to talk about, his mind wanders…. He notices new neighbours unpacking and instantly becomes infatuated with Jenna (McNamee), and in turn he develops a deep hatred for her loud mouth and abusive boyfriend. Slowly things break down even further with his uncaring career driven wife as he comes to realise that he’s stuck in a stagnant relationship and dead marriage, but he has a strange backup plan, as a special friendship grows with Jenna to the point of obsession, he keeps a watchful eye over her and helps with her gardening, they even hit the pipe together so its gotta be love right?! Mike is meek, gentle and cares with his heart not his brain, you can see a deep ocean of emotions washing over this psychee ever time he sees her. After his wife kicks him out and Jenna promises to leave Mr quick fists everything seems to be okay but Mike is soon to becomes his worst enemy.
Quite frequently the film draws back to this empty and plain american household and picturesque neighbourhood the spotlight isn’t directed totally at American society but it is a part of what has gone wrong, but like War of the Roses (1989) it’s also about the unseen broken relationship, but in this relisation this was entirely broken but Mike and his wife are aware that things are over but are happy to co-habit. The interior of the home seems to reflect the emptiness around Mikes sterile life. He totters around barely able to move like a human and more like a robot. He’s spent too much time under the thumb to really function in the real world and everything happening to him and around him seems to cripple him further.
Fruit is pretty important to this narrative, in the early scenes Mike has a lavish garden and lots of beautiful ripe fruit that he uses in his cooking, and when things start to turn sour it’s reflected in the rotten fruit he disposes of in his garden. Mike had fallen for the youth and beauty of the junior fickled girl next door who seems to need a white knight. Mike so wants to be this saviour but is no physical match for her overbearing boyfriend. It’s Jenna’s face he sees when he eventually coaxes sex out of his wife, it’s her welfare that he protects everyday but Mike does everything wrong, his awkward nature and knee jerk reactions land him into trouble, Fichtner is an great actor who really throws himself into his roles, this has to be one of the least active I have seen him in but he adapts to it like a glove.
In the eventual throes of the movie Jenna is seen in a slightly different light, it’s more obvious for the audience that only one person is in love but at what cost.
R: An american beauty (1999)
L: A midlife crisis set on film.
5s: William Fichtner