American Beauty - is she lying? [spoiler]

Pretty much this whole post is a spoiler.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie, but wound up discussing this scene recently. My wife and I had vastly different interpretations of what the heck happened in this scene.

Throughout the movie Kevin Spacey’s character is obsessed with the trash talking cheerleader who endlessly brags of her many sexual conquests. She flirts with him shamelessly. Finally, they are in the kitchen and about to have sex. She suddenly starts acting all weird and says --more or less-- “This is my first time.” Spacey’s character gets all freaked and backs away.

My interpretation:
She’s telling the truth about being a virgin, and has been lying about her sexual exploits through the whole movie. (She certainly wouldn’t be the first teen to have done this)

My wife’s vastly different take:
She really is a sexual dynamo, but was only toying with the wrinkly old guy for fun. When she sees he’s serious and can’t see another way to get out of having sex with him, she fabricates the “I’m a virgin” story to freak him out.

Which version do you think is correct?
Are men (particularly those of in the 30-45 Kevin Spacey demographic) more likely to side with me (“sure I can see how a totally hot young cheerleader would want to have sex with an unemployed middle age dude”) and women more likely to side with my wife (“Ewwwww”)?

Your version. And I’m female.

Ditto and ditto. Your wife’s version never occurred to me and doesn’t fit with the character, IMHO.

Shit are these people watching the same movie :

she says: This is my first time.

he laughs and says You’re kidding.

she whispers I’m sorry.

he looks at her, his grin fades

she lies there embarrassed and vulnerable

she is no longer the girl of his fantasies; she is a nervous child.

she says I still want to do it… I just thought I should tell you… you know, in case you wondered why I wasn’t… better
Fit all that in to any interpretation other than yours and you’ve got a job in Hollywood doctoring scripts.

And while I think of it, add that to top ten scripts of all time

Uh…who are “these people”? ruadh and I both agreed with igloorex’s interpretation, which is the one you apparently agree with as well. The only “people” who haven’t, so far, is Mrs. igloorex.

Sorry. I had no wish to offend. I guess it took me a few minutes to compose my post and I am on the other side of the world. But…mea culpa.

That is my interpretation as well.

I’m with you, igloorex. Female here.

Female. I agree with the OP’s version.

Male in Spacey’s demographic. I agree with the OP.


thirtysomething female - igloorex’s wife is wrong. Igloorex is correct.

I think it will be hard to find anyone supporting your wife’s interpretation, igloorex. It’s interesting as such, but not in this movie. The girl really is a virgin and, as don’t ask said, this makes Spacey’s character suddenly realize what he’s doing. And while (even being male) I agree that it’s slightly strange that a young cheerleader would be interested in a middle aged man, the girl obviously has issues (she’s a virgin, and yet she brags about her sexual exploits). So yeah, she was telling the truth.

I must admit, when I first saw the movie, I came to the same conclusion as Mrs. igloorex. But now I agree with the other interpretation.

I am male and was 20 or 21 when the movie came out.

Male here. You’re correct.

Another guy. You’re right.

You have to admit that Mrs. igloorex’s version is pretty interesting. Look back at the character and there is nothing that contradicts the idea that she’s totally experienced sexually, and just, at the last minute, decides she doesn’t want to come across for the old guy.

True, Hollywood likes to go for the twist, the ‘bet-you-never-expected-that’ moment, but rarely can they bring themselves to pull it off as subtlely as this would indicate. Characters never have that kind of depth unless it’s explained pretty blatantly at some point, to lay all the producer’s/director’s/editor’s/investor’s fears to rest. Audiences are stupid after all, and need everything in a tidy package, fully explained.

So, while I like the idea, and I am attracted to the devious double-cross reading of the film, the writing, the character, the acting, and the overall light touch attributed to the filmakers in this interpretation…I have to say…nah–it can’t be.

She’s a virgin.

I’m 45 and a male.

Female here. She’s a virgin, or at the most a demi-vierge.

As to the Why would she . . . .? question, I have no idea. I wondered about this back in high school when my girlfriends fell hard for (1) our typing/shorthand teacher & tennis coach, an old man of perhaps 40 (2) Paul Newman, yeah, a nice looking guy, you’d maybe think if he was your dad some of those good genes would come through and you’d have nice blue eyes (3) a very dapper old guy, at least sixty who went to our church. . .

So who knows WHY young girls would go after older men, except possibly to test their budding seduction skills, without expecting those skills to actually work.

Yeah, she’s just blowing bullshit at her friend. Your wife’s theory is plausible, but that character isn’t nearly a good enough actress to pull of something like that scene. She’s just a kid who wants desperately for people to think she’s special, so she talks out her ass trying to impress them.

Of course, I’ve known people to try the whole “Oh, I’ve never really done [fill in activity related to sex, drugs, or alcohol], I was just trying to look cool.” They weren’t good enough actors to pull off that scene either, so nobody believes their revised version of events.

I don’t even understand how the theory could be right. Why would anyone assume that, “If I say I’m inexperienced, it will really freak the old guy out and make him not want to do it?” I would think the opposite would be the case, that you wouldn’t even think of saying that because there would be a decent chance of getting the guy revved up even more (since he is clearly looking for certain attributes associated with youth, that one in particular might excite him; my memory is that he is more interested in her body, and that he has not actually heard her talk about her purported sexual exploits, but I may be misremembering).