For my 'American Beauty' mes en sen analysis I have chosen to look at the Office scene between Lester and his boss. During this scene Lester is fired, but very confidently out smarts his boss earning himself a years salary plus benefits. The theme of wanting a 'more meaningful life' is something that runs very deeply with in the subtext, and is also represented in this scene in various different forms.
This scene opens with Lester's boss reading a promiscuous letter written by Lester as to why he believes he should keep his job. The first we see of Lester is that he is sat relaxed in his chair not facing his boss. This connotes a rebellious quality as he is choosing not to make eye contact with someone with a higher status. Also to support this connotation of rebellion, he sits with his arm on the boss's desk, showing an informality and unprofessional attitude towards his boss. At first the desk appears very organised and clean, denoting the boss's sense of neatness and detail. However this could further connote a 'control freak' like quality within the bosses personality. The setting also contains many black objects, and this could connote danger, and a sense of the unknown. From Lester's outfit, I can connote that he does not care about how he appears to his boss, showing a sense of being fearless, which could also been interpreted as a teenage styled attitude as this plays a crucial role later on in the film. He is wearing dull colours E.g: Grey shirt and blazer, which could denote a lack of style, however it could connote his dull views on life. Furthermore, he wears a yellow laced tie which if looked at in detail, could connote breaking away from his dull views on his life, and perhaps the start of something new. Also the way he sits with his tie loose, and his jacket open, connotes a care free quality. In comparison to Lester's careless sense of style, his boss wears a black fitting suit with a red tie and matching pocket handkerchief. From this detailed choice of outfit, I can connote that he is very detailed with his appearance, and cares about how he is presented to others, and how people view him. On the other hand, the use of red and black could connote destruction and danger, which perfectly fits his intentions after reading Lester's unpredictable letter. He is also well groomed, unlike Lester, connoting a sense of pride in all aspect of the way he looks. Both outfits fit the nature of the office setting. At this point of the scene, all attention is on Lester's letter, however if analysed in more detail, the setting and lighting of the moment can give away connotations about both characters. The lighting used is very natural lighting with no artificial lighting coming from an points in the room. The light from outside is very limited, as the blinds are slightly closed as well as the door, connoting a sense of privacy and secrecy. Furthermore, it could connote that Lester's future actions must remain a secret and kept from others. As soon as Lester's reverses the situation using blackmail towards his boss, the atmosphere of the scene changes rapidly. Lester's relaxed facial expressions change into intense eye contact with his boss. As the situation has changed, and Lester is now higher than his boss, the boss no longer keeps eye contact, and struggles to retain the same body language. The boss becomes very upright an tense as Lester takes control of the situation, and this could connote panic with his loss of control. Lester's vocal quality as he reveals his plan of blackmail is a very confident/sarcastic which connotes that he has nothing to loose giving him complete power in the situation. In comparison to his boss, Lester remains in the same position connoting that he has the upper hand against his boss.
As Lester Leaves the office, he walks behind several windows of frosted glass and then into the office, this could connote his unclear intentions finally becoming clear. Also it could show clarification in his life ambitions. His attitude is much more upbeat as he leaves his bosses office, and this is shown in his upright body language. This office is much brighter and more lighting is used to connote his change in attitude and his more positive outlook on his own life. Also it connotes his future becoming brighter, and this contrast the lighting of the boss's office. As he leaves he is carry a box of items over his shoulder, which denotes his unemployment, however the way he is carrying it over his shoulder connotes strength and confidence within himself. In comparison to the other office workers he stand much taller, connoting his views on the company, and also his attitude towards life. As the office workers are all wearing dull colours, this shows a bland and boring interpretation in comparison to Lester's brighter and more exciting life. The theme of a 'more meaningful life' is influenced by lots of aspects of mes on sen during this scene, and all aspects combined help to connote the positive change in Lester that influences the rest of the context and supports other major themes throughout the film.