Ricky is a puzzling figure in the movie. What is your view of his character and role in the film? How is this made clear to the viewer? American Beauty illustrates ones strive towards happiness and beauty. Ricky, a puzzling figure, plays a significant role in the movie viewing beauty in the most unique and individual way. To get a deeper view of Ricky, we need to consider his role in the film, why he is made to be so perplexing and why the director has incorporated his character into the story. Depicted as the ‘irregular’ boy next door, Ricky is an only child who isn’t afraid of what others may think and say about him.
He sees right through people, judging them not on their physical appearance and features, but for their inner truth. Yet this is exactly what others do to Ricky. Since he dresses against the customs and captures the beauty of his life as he sees it through his camcorder, viewers and characters alike are automatically to think that he lacks normality. Despite this, however, we do in fact get to see some characters look past the outer layers, and actually get the time to know the real Ricky. Ricky becomes a guide, a character opening the eyes of others, if only slightly, to see what truly lies in front of them.
Ricky’s view on life is far more in depth than the other characters in the film. He understands that underneath the clutter of visual beauty, is something so much more empowering. To distinguish real beauty, the kind that is usually unseen, the director has placed Ricky into the film. From the most obscure, and sometimes simple scenarios, Ricky is able to find splendour and happiness. While watching a recording of nothing but a plastic bag driven by a whirl of wind, he states it as: “The most beautiful thing I have even filmed. ”
In turn, he passes this ability to see past the world’s expectations onto other characters. Namely Janey, an outcast with desires of a boob job, a father she’s unembarrassed by and friends that help her fit in. A character less attractive than her self-absorbed cheerleading friend Angela, Janey appeals to Ricky as a fascination, a beauty beyond recognition. As Janey slowly becomes more responsive towards Ricky, he shows her the true beauty of the world, things that she was once blind to. Her view of her physical image begins to change and we see the formation of Janey as she discovers the true meaning of beauty.
Whilst American Beauty discusses the concept of beauty, it also realises happiness, an emotion so broad it is impossible to define in a sole example. Ricky is probably the only character in the film that is content. He has a deranged mother and a controlling father, he’s been sent to military school and a hospital for the unstable, yet still he is happy with his life and the way he conducts it. As the film shows us the unhappy points of the characters, Ricky is sustainable through the joy of beauty. Through doing what he wants and desires he maintains his happiness and is controlled by nothing.
He states: “I don’t get scared. ” Janey’s father, Lester, is at a stage in his life where he realises there is more than what he possesses. He is unhappy, in a miserable job, and his marriage is on the verge of being over. Lester needs a way out, a place where he can escape from the world. Ricky provides a way out, he opens up Lester’s eyes, resulting in Lester realising he has to stop getting controlled by others, and discover how to live once more. Ricky shows Lester how to let go of the things that are holding him back. As puzzling as Ricky is, he shows simplicity in the way his life is conducted.
He presents a prime example of the metaphor “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Although he seems complicated, hopeless and strange, he turns out to be the most emotionally stable character of the movie. As the viewers of American Beauty get taken into a tale of self-realisation, Ricky provides the foundation. He is used as the rock on which the characters lean to find truth in both happiness and beauty. By looking at Ricky’s character thoroughly, it’s evident that his purpose is to tie together the loose ends of each character’s self pity.