This film, is, above all, a deeply moving drama. The suburbanite, highly dysfunctional, Burnham Family is sad, enchanting, sickening, wonderful, confusing, tragic, abhorrent, and every other adjective listed in Websters. That is precisely what makes this film a true "one-of-a-kind".
Mr. Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey)is daily pitted against his icy, cheating, manic, depressed, totally materialistic realtor of a psudo-wife, Carolyn (Annette Beining) and his quite sullen, self-absorbed, ambivolent, teenaged daughter, Jane (Thora Birch).
However, into Lester & Jane's lives come two very achingly beautiful & wonderful human beings. Jane's fellow cheerleader confidant Angela Hayes-note the Nabokov/Lolita reference in the last name-(Mena Suvari) who has a penchant for older men and a huge crush on Jane's daddy, jolts Lester into a sexual epiphany that makes Lester's life worth living again. He daily fantasizes about the young, sexy Angela. She makes him feel like a bumbling, pimplefaced teenager on his first date and all of these meetings between the two really blooms into kind of a second adolescence for the harried Lester. An eerily calm, young next door neighbor, Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley) and his lifelong Marine Corps father, Col. Frank Fitts, USMC (Chris Cooper) add much drama.
The whole cast turns out top-notch performances and the score, cinematography & direction are utterly "dreamlike".
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AMERICAN BEAUTY tells the story of Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), a suburban father who snaps when he becomes disgusted with his stale, repetitive existence. Burnham lets us know in voice-over from the film's opening that this is the day he dies (using the SUNSET BOULEVARD flashback approach), a technique that adds an inevitable tension to the proceedings and keeps the story moving forward at all times. On a whim, Lester quits his job and begins a regression into young adulthood, lifting weights, smoking pot, doing nothing, and discovering the overflowing sexuality of his 16-year-old daughter's best friend, Angela (Mena Suvari). His wife, Carolyn (Annette Bening), has her own midlife crisis of sorts. A real estate agent, she experiences a youthful awakening when super-agent Buddy Kane (Peter Gallagher) seduces her repeatedly. Meanwhile, Jane (Thora Birch), the Burnhams' daughter, is pursued by Ricky (Wes Bentley), the mysterious boy next door who carries a video camera around with him at all times. When ...