I chose this film due to its difference to conventional filmmaking, as instead of glorifying the main characters, the area and plot, it shows fault and illustrates the main characters as sad and unhappy. I chose to do this review on the opening minutes of the film describing in detail the camera shots and plot, as it would seem to the viewer watching for the first time.
The opening scene is a medium shot of the main character’s daughter lying on a bed talking. The screen is fuzzy, to give the impression of looking through a video camera. The daughter is talking to someone behind the camera, giving the impression of talking to the viewer or audience. She is talking about how much she dislikes and hates her father (Lester, the main character). This gives the impression of watching a personal film and the viewer is involved, as it appears at first that the character is talking to the audience until the hidden person filming speaks. The scene ends when the character behind the camera offers to kill the girl’s father. The screen goes blank and the film title appears in medium red print on a black background, central to the screen. This sudden change from shot is to represent the plot to end a life, as the transition to a blank black screen.
The next shot after the title is a top shot of a typical suburban American street on a slow zoom in towards the road. There is a narrative, male voice over of the main character Lester, describing his death. This would appear to fit with the previous scene of the daughter talking about murdering her father This creates a feeling of curiosity and suspense throughout the film, for the viewer, who is waiting to see what could have created such a gap between father and daughter. This effect of giving away the ending in the first scene is very effective in creating constant suspense throughout the film up to the dramatic climax. It has been used in many films and plays including William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet.
Gradually when the camera zooms in the shot switches to a bird’s eye view of the main character lying in his bed, alone. This first shot of him shows him as lonely or incomplete even though he has a family. The camera then changes to a close up of his face, which appears sad and disorientated, further showing his dislike for his current lifestyle. There is then a jump cut to a pair of slippers on the floor next to the bed, being
filmed from under the bed.
This shot represents an ordered and scheduled lifestyle
as the slippers must have been placed neatly next to the bed the previous night. The next frame switches to a medium long shot of the main character (Lester) masturbating in the shower. The effect of this is to shock the audience yet at the same time inspire pity at his frustrated and dull life as he continues to narrate over the film about himself, showing little embarrassment.
The next scene is a close up of a Rose flower, which is then cut from the plant by a pair of pruning sheers. The Rose is constantly seen throughout the film, as well as rose petals, however rarely alive. They are usually in vases or on show. The roses, I feel, represent the lifestyle of the family. The rose looks perfect and appears very beautiful however it is dead. The family are similar, as they appear to have everything most people want, their health, nice house, money yet they are not happy. The roses are a constant theme throughout the film, I feel to remind us of the families unhappiness. The next frame sees the camera switch to a medium long shot of Carolyn (the main character’s wife) holding the freshly cut rose in her hand. This shot represents that she too was once alive but is now dying inside like the rose.
All in all I found this film extremely interesting and thought provoking, I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys twisting plots, amazing acting and some of the most brilliant (and strange) characters in modern day cinema. The slow unravelling of the plot keeps you guessing until the very end of the film, as well as challenging modern day society and depicting modern day family life and the hypocrisy of Suburban America.