Often compared to Nabokov’s Lolita, Sam Mendes’ American Beauty is a tale of dissatisfaction, adventure, and the nature of the American dream. Its primary theme of nonconformity may be obvious, look closer and you’ll see that it is a complex work that deals with a wide range of ideas. Skillfully directed and evenly paced, there was not a moment in the film that I felt was dragged out for too long. Every main character is well developed and explored, from the dissatisfied middle-class office worker Lester Burnham to the washed up military father. American Beauty is a poignant critique of modern American society, but also an enjoyable piece of entertainment for the casual viewer.