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American Beauty

A movie directed by Sam Mendes

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The Best Film I Have Seen In Over 10 Years!

  • May 28, 2009
  • by
Writer, Alan Ball's (of Six Feet Under & True Blood fame) first theatrical script blurs those stereotypical slow death in suburbia lines and keeps the viewer off balance throughout the entirety of the film.

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. 

Lester 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".

Highly recommended!

Happy Watching!

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February 19, 2010
Nice review. I decided to scope it out when I saw it on the Count's list of favorite reviews.
May 28, 2009
Finally someone else has reviewed this film and given it a positive rating. It was killing me when I wrote my review because the film only had a 3.8 and now it's even worse at a 3.5. I really don't see how anyone could give this film anything lower than a 4... it is, as you put it, one of the best films in decades! And the Awards Edition DVD only has two ratings, mine and someone else's which gives it an overall rating of a 2. Do people not know  a great film when they see one?
May 28, 2009
I remember the first time I saw this film and at the end I wanted to IMMEDIATELY watch it again, which I did. I don't understand, either, why people don't love, let alone like this film. In my top 20 films of all time, for sure!!!
May 30, 2009
agreed! American Beauty is a unique, funny, enlightening take on the hypocrisies behind American suburbia.  What do you guys think of Sam Mendez's career?  His last film Revolutionary Road was not memorable and emotionally draining.  Here's hoping "Away We Go" is better
June 05, 2009
I LOVED Road To Perdition but really HATED Jarhead which my husband dragged me to see when it first came out. Since it was directed by Mendez I agreed. Nothing could have saved that film...Not even Sam! Revolutionary Road is at the top of my Netflix queue to view. "Away We Go" looks like a great flick and has some of my favorite actors like Catherine O'Hara, Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney, Maggie Gyllenhaal and while I'm not a fan of John Krasinski's ( I only like to see him as Jim on The Office) the film will either be a smash or a total bomb.
More American Beauty reviews
review by . September 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is facing a midlife crisis; as many men in the movies have before (and after) him. He doesn't have a healthy relationship with his wife Carolyn (Annette Benning) or even his teenage daughter Jane (Thora Birch). Not to mention, he finds his job to be crappy; as if he's trapped in a world which he cannot escape. This is sad. The entirety of "American Beauty" is, in my image, sad. Why so many people quote the little "funny" lines …
Quick Tip by . September 19, 2010
Years later, this seems a little dated and it is hard to see how new and exciting it was for viewers. The acting by Kevin Spacey and Annette Benning is reliably excellent. But it seems as though there is not much "there" there.
review by . March 02, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
First-time filmmaker Sam Mendes has won the hearts of critics and audiences alike, in what some are calling the most extraordinary cinematic directorial debut since Orson Welles' Citizen Kane in 1941. Sam Mendes' film, American Beauty, is a modern masterpiece and one of the seminal films of the last few decades. Mendes, who is perhaps best known for his revival of the stage production of Cabaret, brings all of his theatrical sensibilities to the screen and in doing so he has actually expanded the …
review by . December 17, 2008
This movie is truly one of the greats!  Kevin Spacey does an excellent job as being a middle aged men going through a mid-life crisis.  His family is pretty dysfunctional and he's really trying to find his place within his family.  His infamous line "I Rule!" is the best and is such a perfect line for the movie.  Annette Benning plays his wife whom is also very unhappy in her marriage and seeks out a colleague for support.  This is one of her best performances.  Their …
review by . February 15, 2006
Think about it, what makes this film the best of 1999 is the acting. Kevin Spacey shines as Lester Burnham, and Annette Bening (Carolyn Burnham) isn't far behind. Supporting cast members such as Wes Bentley (Ricky Fitts), Thora Birch (Jane Burnham), Mena Suvari (Angela Hayes), and Chris Cooper (Col. Frank Fitts) only adds to the drama of this film. I think the most special aspect of this film is how all of the characters intertwine in a way that is believable, yet fantastic at the same time. I congratulate …
review by . May 06, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Writer, Alan Ball's (of Six Feet Under fame) first theatrical script blurs those stereotypical slow death in suburbia lines and keeps the viewer off balance throughout the entirety of the film.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 …
review by . April 02, 2000
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Great story and acting     Cons: None     What happens when an American Family melts down? The viewers of this film get an inside glimpse into a typical American family dealing with sexuality, monogamy, mid life crisis, teen angst, career highs, women as breadwinners, drugs, and the rest of the topics that we all deal with in our own everyday lives.      The acting is superb and the characters engrossing. The filming technique was …
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Sheila Chilcote-Collins ()
Ranked #155
I enjoy writing my own reviews, listmanias, 'So You'd Like To's' on Amazon and love reading other people's thoughts. I own in excess of 1000 movies, 800+ albums, & 500+ books. … more
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About this movie


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 ...

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Director: Sam Mendes
Genre: Classics, Comedy, Drama, Gay & Lesbian, Mystery, Romance
Release Date: September 8, 1999; September 15, 1999
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 2hrs 0min
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