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American Beauty (Full Slip)
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Product Description

From its first gliding aerial shot of a generic suburban street, American Beauty moves with a mesmerizing confidence and acuity epitomized by Kevin Spacey's calm narration. Spacey is Lester Burnham, a harried Everyman whose midlife awakening is the spine of the story, and his very first lines hook us with their teasing fatalism--like Sunset Boulevard's Joe Gillis, Burnham tells us his story from beyond the grave.

It's an audacious start for a film that justifies that audacity. Weaving social satire, domestic tragedy, and whodunit into a single package, Alan Ball's first theatrical script dares to blur generic lines and keep us off balance, winking seamlessly from dark, scabrous comedy to deeply moving drama. The Burnham family joins the cinematic short list of great dysfunctional American families, as Lester is pitted against his manic, materialistic realtor wife, Carolyn (Annette Bening, making the most of a mostly unsympathetic role) and his sullen, contemptuous teenaged daughter, Jane (Thora Birch, utterly convincing in her edgy balance of self-absorption and wistful longing). Into their lives come two catalytic outsiders. A young cheerleader (Mena Suvari) jolts Lester into a sexual epiphany that blooms into a second adolescence. And an eerily calm young neighbor (Wes Bentley) transforms both Lester and Jane with his canny influence.

Credit another big-screen newcomer, English theatrical director Sam Mendes, with expertly juggling these potentially disjunctive elements into a superb ensemble piece that achieves a stylized pace without lapsing into transparent self-indulgence. Mendes has shrewdly insured his success with a solid crew of stage veterans, yet he's also made an inspired discovery in Bentley, whose Ricky Fitts becomes a fulcrum for both plot and theme. Cinematographer Conrad Hall's sumptuous visual design further elevates the film, infusing the beige interiors of the Burnhams' lives with vivid bursts of deep crimson, the color of roses--and of blood. --Sam Sutherland

Customer Reviews:

  • Tragicomic
    American Beauty is surreal. It's tragicomic, and to me, it brought an unconscious weirdness to my reality. I watched the movie at 3 AM and at times, the movie urged me to kill myself, to explode, to pressure and bang against everything around me and my confines (my dorm room). Unlike other semi-realistic pictures, American Beauty only hinted at this "stuffiness" of life. And that's what makes it so frustrating--yet so beautiful and aesthetic, as Rick would say.
    Precise acting, intriguing screenplay....more info
  • One of the best movies ever made . . .
    This movie starts out as just another crude comedy. But . . . look closer . . . and you'll see that it's many things . . . I'm not even sure how to describe it, what genre to put it in. But I would say it's one of those movies that, if you stick with it through the first half, which is mainly just for laughs, you will be greatly rewarded by the end. The last ten minutes or so of the movie are absolutely beautiful . . . ponder the title of the movie as you watch it . . . and your perception of what it means will change drastically as the film goes on. Full of surprises.

    ...more info
  • One of the best
    I don't know how to add to the great comments this incredible film has received. It is a masterpiece and I know that word gets thrown around a lot but this film is simply a piece of film perfection. I am much more into action films or sci fi and so when I watched this a few nights ago it really took total of my attention. With all the recent films I've watched in the past few years, I admit I became a bit jaded and not at all interested in all the 'best films' like this year but I am glad I went back and visited the Best Film from 1999. It is a special film. ...more info
  • One of my favorite films
    From the opening moments of the movie, we know Lester Burnham is going to die; we just do not know the specifics, nor do we realize how little the knowledge of his demise will detract from our enjoyment of the film leading up to this final act. Things appear to be perfectly fine in the Burnham household: Lester and Carolyn are both gainfully employed, have a large, beautiful house in suburbia, drive luxury automobiles and their healthy, robust teenaged daughter is a cheerleader on the high school squad. Yet, every seasoned filmgoer knows to never trust appearances. Carolyn's career as a real estate agent isn't going well, so she's hoping that sleeping with the enormously successful real estate king will help rub off some of his fortune. Lester, on the other hand, doesn't have a career; he has a job. In fact, he has had the same job with the same employer for several years. The distinction between "career" and "job" is vitally important to those of us who merely have a "job." Sure, it might pay reasonably well, though not necessarily. A "job," however, is not something we envision ourselves doing for the rest of our lives and it is certainly not how we define ourselves. In fact, we would rather not respond when asked what we do for a living. It simply does not matter to us. What is worse, Lester does not have a sense of identity. "That's okay. I wouldn't remember me either," he responds when one of his wife's acquaintances mistakenly thinks they are meeting for the first time. Perhaps not many people can identify with this, though I certainly can. Lester and I are equally unremarkable, failing to make an impression on most people we meet. Maybe at one point in the past, or even still today deep down, we want to remain anonymous. It does have its advantages at times. It is often frustrating or embarrassing, however, and we realize this. Sometimes when people are indistinct, yet want to be noticed, they resort to drastic tactics. This is how murder sprees happen. But I digress. Rather than murder people, Lester nonetheless does take radical measures. With an unloving wife and a daughter who finds him an embarrassment, he chooses to quit everything in an effort to start over. In a quest to redefine himself, he returns to life the way it was before he was supposed to define himself. He was much more comfortable then. "I want the job with the least amount of responsibility," he tells the teenaged manager of the fast food restaurant at which he applies for a job. Few responsibilities, not accountable to anyone and no one accountable to him; hanging out, lifting weights and smoking pot; this is life the way it was meant to be. Unfortunately for Lester, the young man (Wes Bentley) supplying him with weed happens to have an authoritarian, unenlightened father (Chris Cooper) with a particularly strong homophobic streak. Some misunderstandings occur and trouble ensues. While this film might not appeal to all tastes, judging from the high ratings and overwhelmingly positive reviews that many people see much of themselves in the characters portrayed in this film. I know this is the case for me. ...more info
  • One of my favorite films
    From the opening moments of the movie, we know Lester Burnham is going to die; we just do not know the specifics, nor do we realize how little the knowledge of his demise will detract from our enjoyment of the film leading up to this final act. Things appear to be perfectly fine in the Burnham household: Lester and Carolyn are both gainfully employed, have a large, beautiful house in suburbia, drive luxury automobiles and their healthy, robust teenaged daughter is a cheerleader on the high school squad. Yet, every seasoned filmgoer knows to never trust appearances. Carolyn's career as a real estate agent isn't going well, so she's hoping that sleeping with the enormously successful real estate king will help rub off some of his fortune. Lester, on the other hand, doesn't have a career; he has a job. In fact, he has had the same job with the same employer for several years. The distinction between "career" and "job" is vitally important to those of us who merely have a "job." Sure, it might pay reasonably well, though not necessarily. A "job," however, is not something we envision ourselves doing for the rest of our lives and it is certainly not how we define ourselves. In fact, we would rather not respond when asked what we do for a living. It simply does not matter to us. What is worse, Lester does not have a sense of identity. "That's okay. I wouldn't remember me either," he responds when one of his wife's acquaintances mistakenly thinks they are meeting for the first time. Perhaps not many people can identify with this, though I certainly can. Lester and I are equally unremarkable, failing to make an impression on most people we meet. Maybe at one point in the past, or even still today deep down, we want to remain anonymous. It does have its advantages at times. It is often frustrating or embarrassing, however, and we realize this. Sometimes when people are indistinct, yet want to be noticed, they resort to drastic tactics. This is how murder sprees happen. But I digress. Rather than murder people, Lester nonetheless does take radical measures. With an unloving wife and a daughter who finds him an embarrassment, he chooses to quit everything in an effort to start over. In a quest to redefine himself, he returns to life the way it was before he was supposed to define himself. He was much more comfortable then. "I want the job with the least amount of responsibility," he tells the teenaged manager of the fast food restaurant at which he applies for a job. Few responsibilities, not accountable to anyone and no one accountable to him; hanging out, lifting weights and smoking pot; this is life the way it was meant to be. Unfortunately for Lester, the young man (Wes Bentley) supplying him with weed happens to have an authoritarian, unenlightened father (Chris Cooper) with a particularly strong homophobic streak. Some misunderstandings occur and trouble ensues. While this film might not appeal to all tastes, judging from the high ratings and overwhelmingly positive reviews that many people see much of themselves in the characters portrayed in this film. I know this is the case for me. ...more info
  • An outstanding accomplishment
    Drama in which a middle-class suburban family begins to fall apart when husband and father Kevin Spacey starts going through a mid-life crisis, quitting his job as a magazine writer, befriending his teenage daughter Thora Birch's boyfriend Wes Bentley, starting to smoke marijuana and beginning an obsession with his daughter's best friend Mena Suvari, all in an attempt to dispel the deadness that he feels inside and regain the happiness that he feels that he has not had since he was a young man. Spacey's behaviour serves to further destabilise his already dysfunctional family in which his daughter despises him and his wife Annette Bening and him never have sex: now his wife runs into the arms of another man and his daughter progresses from despising him to being outright sickened by him because of his obvious sexual interest in her best friend. But Spacey doesn't care because he feels that his life was a sham anyway and the only way he can regain what he has lost is by letting go of all the lies and pretences and doing whatever will make him and him alone happy. This film is populated by largely tragic characters, all struggling to make sense of life and escape the despair and bleakness that seems to them to be all that there is. Spacey is reliable as the voice of the movie and the main protagonist going through the mid-life crisis who moves from sympathetic to unsympathetic to sympathetic through the course of the movie. Thora Birch is excellent as Spacey's teenage daughter who feels that she is a misfit and forms a relationship with troubled boy next door and drug dealer Wes Bentley, who has been inside a mental institution and has an unsettling habit of filming people on his camcorder when they don't know he is watching. Annette Bening is on form as Spacey's desperately unhappy estate agent wife whose primary concern is putting on a fa?ade of marital and domestic bliss for the world to see to hide the fact that her family and marriage are falling apart. Mena Suvari puts in a favourable performance as Birch's insecure best friend who derives her self-esteem from the fact that men find her sexually attractive but is secretly afraid that she is nothing special and hence will never gain the adulation that she craves. Finally Chris Cooper is good in a supporting role as Birch's boyfriend Bentley's violent and homophobic father. This film, although largely bleak in tone and quite disturbing at times, is poignant and has a profound message about the importance of seeing beauty in life, which director Sam Mendes symbolises throughout the film with red petals from the American Beauty rose (from which the film takes its name). With a number of revelations and a shocking final twist, this is one of the best films I have ever seen, and easily deserves the Oscars that it won. An outstanding accomplishment.

    ...more info
  • My Favorite Film From the 90s
    American Beauty is a "love it" or "hate it" film, and you never know if it has more 'love it' or 'hate it' viewers. Personally, I love it -from the first sight, from the last sight, from the eternal sight. It is my favorite film of the 90s, one of my personal twenty favorites ever. I think that American Beauty is an instant classic, and it will stay that way as long as people watch movies.

    The film is deep, dark, and tragic. The title is American Beauty but it is more like Universal Sadness. It is not about superheroes - it is about very flawed, tired, and shallow people - but just as the tag line says - one must look closer.

    I live in a town like the one in American Beauty too - nice houses, brick, vinyl, neatly cut grass and flowers. "The air is fresh and sweet like a child's kiss". I jog in the mornings or in the evenings and people often sit on their porches or water their lawns or jog just as I do. We always smile at each other and say "Hi, how are you?" I always think to myself - what goes on beyond the closed doors of these people that I see? They could be happy with their families and with their jobs. They do look happy. Or, they may be tired and disappointed with their lives, trying to do something to change it - or just letting the days pass by.

    Leo Tolstoy opened his novel Anna Karenina with the words, "All happy families are happy in the same way; each unhappy family is unique in its unhappiness". That's why it is much more interesting for me to try and understand each unhappy family - why did it happen? The family in American Beauty used to be happy - there is even proof - the photograph with three of them, happy, laughing. Where did it go? When? Why? When was the moment in time when two loving people became strangers and prisoners in their own nice house with the beautiful roses outside? These are the questions I kept thinking about when I saw AB for the first time, and I still can not find the answers. Can something be changed? How? What do you do to wake up from the lethargic dream that your life has become? How do you reach the people who are the closest to you? What the hell do you need a $3000 couch for if you can not make love to your wife on it? What is the purpose of material possessions if they become more important than the smile of your daughter? When did you start to think that giving your children the best toys possible would substitute for a talk, for a sincere and honest interest as to what they really worry about? I did not find American Beauty patronizing and simplistic - it asks difficult questions but does not provide you with any easy answers. I still look for those answers. I don't blame the movie for imperfection of its characters - I know they do exist. We don't like them - but can one be mad when looking in the mirror? I want to add a couple of words about Spacey's character, Lester Burnham (BTW, Spacey may stop acting right now, and he probably should after all the flops he has produced since AB, but he will always be remembered for Lester). Lester could say about himself what another flawed but unforgettable character did 25 years before him: "Well, I tried, didn't I? Goddamnit, at least I did that." Lester Burnham died a happy man; the last words he heard in his life were that his daughter was in love - it meant for him that she could feel, that she was alive because love changes us and makes us better. His last sight was that of a picture where happiness and joy were captured forever. In death, he had at last captured that for which he had longed for the most in life - happiness.

    He died a happy man - not many do.

    ...more info
  • Life as a Married Man
    This is my undisputed favorite movie of all time. I ordered it as a gift for someone who has never seen it. Lester Burnham releases the real man who has been supressed by his marriage and family for way too long. He is my personal hero. Even though it ends tragic for him, it ends happy for him. Awesome....more info
  • It's all in the title
    The title says it all. America's paragon of beauty is a self-absorbed nymphette, or a frustrated matron's petal-deep rose by the same name.

    Although all the characters in this film are existentially tormented, there is a clear division between those who get it and who don't.

    The "it" is our innate separation from the rapture of merely being alive, captured here in a grainy video of a plastic bag blowing in the wind, but commodified for most Americans by a Barbie-doll culture where the culmination of life means being desired, or acquiring what you desire.

    Mendes is telling us, a little heavy-handedly at times, that being in the 'burbs isn't what blinds you to being truly alive. It's your lack of imagination that will get you in the end.

    Such is the human condition: At our most comfortable are we most tormented. At least those who "get it" will perceive the vapidity of America's depraved idea of beauty....more info
  • Beautiful Funny and Sad
    It's a great film. The word beautiful in the title
    is very fitting. Personally it's the best Kevin spacey
    film I've seen. Very sad how his death could have
    been easily avoided and funny how he solved his mid-life
    crisis it's a great film and I highly recommended it....more info
  • Letdown
    With a good cast and director, I had my hopes a little too high before watching. American Beauty could have been amazing. The lighting and angles really bug me, and for a script with very little encrypted or interesting dialogue, the visuals are important to get right. I think it was worth the $7.50 spent to see it once, just because of the conversations about it afterward. Some love it, some hate it. In my opinion, when describing this movie, using the word "eh" is inevitable.

    Message received but not well delivered, if that makes sense at all.
    Rent this movie before buying it.

    ...more info
  • American Reality
    This is a great, satirical, passionate, sensual, and disturbing movie. You will love the character development and find yourself on the side of different characters as time goes on. The characters are so diverse and dissimilar from one another that it is realistic, in that they are not cookie-cutters of one another. Complexity of characters is what really makes this movie.

    Kevin Spacey and Annette Benning give performances that are so convincing that you feel like you've just witnessed the true American family; a family that is not the warm and fuzzy - but the real family that shows the ugliness and anger that really goes on within the facade....more info
  • It's Never Too Late To Get It Back
    American Beauty is perhaps the finest assembled film EVER! It has the rare combination of a perfectly written script, perfect direction, a cast whose acting blends so well together that you truly forget you are watching a movie, rather you feel like you are looking through a window in your neighborhood and watching the lives of others. When this is all combined with unbelievable lighting and a score that is magical, dream like, and just perfect for the story, well, I must admit, I can not think of a better movie. This movie is a triumph of film making, as I stated, every role, cast and crew, was filled perfectly. Starting with a story that Alan Ball wrote, he brought the world the perfect mix of drama, dark humor, irony, depression, and at times, a feeling of triumph. The story has, hands down, the best character development ever. As a viewer I truly feel for the characters in this film, and actually can relate to what many of them are going through. Whether it brought up memories of high school, both good and bad, or feelings of my own current existence as one of the billions on this planet who is not necessarily content with career choices, or just life choices in general, I can relate. The musical score, when mixed with repetitive cinematography, such as when Mena Suvari goes to touch Spacey's shoulder in the kitchen, which is replayed three times, it is perfect. Everything about this movie is perfect, there has never been such a well made movie before, and as I continue to watch the mindless drivel Hollywood loves to throw at us, I can firmly say, there has not been such a well made movie since. I offer my most sincere thanks to Allan Ball, Sam Mendes, the entire cast and crew of American Beauty for blessing us with the truly perfect example of just how well film translates as a true art form. If you have never seen this movie, buy it now, and give it time to sink in, it took me a couple viewings before it really set in for me, and now, I simply can not say enough good about it. This movie is an experience, every single time I watch it, and it just keeps getting better with each viewing....more info
  • American Beauty
    This is one of the best American movies of the last decade, and I'm glad I own the "awards" version. This movie deserves all the awards it won....more info
  • The world according to drama majors
    The film's ending can be predicted after the first few scenes, unless one is completely unfamiliar with cookie cutter PC cliche-laden plot lines churned out by Hollywood's scriptwriting factories. (A quick quiz: in the land of Hollywood who is the ultimate villian -- the drug pusher, the cheating wife, the near-pedophile husband ... or, the man who won't come out of the closet?) A shallow film, about shallow people, given 5 stars by shallow reviewers....more info
  • From Pain To Pleasure
    My girlfriend bought this movie. I didn't want to see it. I thought it was a "chick flick". It was raining outside, and I had used up all my options. Now I had to watch it.

    I should have known it would be good with Kevin Spacey in it. Everything he does it great. But I had no idea it was this good. I can usually figure out the endings of most Hollywood movies these days. They are all the same: the plots, the characters, the acting, or lack of it. I knew how this one was going to end, but was totally surprised by the circumstances. Tragedy and humor...mixed to perfection.

    Great movie. Don't miss it.



    ...more info
  • Extarordinary
    American Beauty is a film for which "extraordinary" is a weak description. It deals with so many issues of life for people of many ages.

    It teaches us that life is full of beauty in so many forms, even the sexually repressed gay, yet homophobic, U.S. Marine Colonel, who in his rage somehow seems beautiful, too. It is so because he is so much alive. Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) must become alive to see that there is "so much beauty in the world," and, once Lester is alive again, he dies.

    Annette Bening's character is still becoming alive, but not completely yet, when the film ends.

    The young man who is always filming people leaves his family which he must, yet still loving his angry father. Will the young man's mother be the next person to become alive again?

    We most likely will never know the answer to that question....more info
  • Why did it win Best Picture of 1999?
    This review is for the DVD Region 1 disc of American Beauty (1999).
    I did not like this movie. Why did it win the Academy Award for Best Picture of 1999? The way they filmed the ending where you saw the reaction and where everyone was at, at the scene of the crime was very well done.
    Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) was better than this....more info
  • One of my favorties from 1999
    Anercian Beauty is one of the best movies I've ever seen. The film is very dark, very funny and tragic. Kevin Spacey did give a very Oscar worthy performance as did Annette Beinnig. Mena Suvair plays Angela with top notch as a young women who uses seduction for her own purposes but has her own secerets. Sam Mendes makes an amazing film his first time out. The cinematography by Conrad Ball is some of the best ever put on film....more info
  • *spectacular*
    this is one of my FAVORITE movies. i highly recommand it to be in your movie collection. the music in the film is moving. the film itself is amazing :) enjoy
    ...more info
  • Love it!
    As evidenced by the many stellar reviews, this is a great, great film. The fact that it is so enormously popular speaks to the quiet desperation many of us sometimes feel in our mundane, humdrum lives...where most of your time is spent doing stuff you are obligated to do, not what you really want to do.

    From the exterior, Kevin Spacey's character has a good job, a great house, a beautiful wife and a loving daughter. The fact is, he's miserable. I love how he is sick of keeping up appearances. I love how he decides to live life the way he wants to - telling his boss to buzz off, buying his dream car, working out and smoking pot - it's brilliant. If a lot of people were brave enough, they would probably admit that they might like to go on a similar adventure.

    In short, the way the tale unfolds is sheer brilliance. The end is shocking and surprising, and very powerful. This is mandatory movie watching for any film buff....more info
  • Heart Rot
    Director Sam Mendes is a very well known Theater director in England . He had directed actors like Judi Dench and Ralph Fiennes in classical roles, working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He directed Nicole Kidman in THE BLUE ROOM. He won a Tony for his Broadway revival of CABARET. Considered an "actor's director", Steven Spielberg (Filmworks produced the film) personally recommended Mendes for the director's chair. With an ample budget, Mendes was able to rehearse his actors for two weeks before shooting started. This always tightens dialogue and deepens characterizations. He also encouraged improvisation during the shoot. BEAUTY was his feature film debut. He did his homework, and came prepared with his story boards completed, and the movie clearly in his head. He has gone on to direct other fine films including ROAD TO PERDITION (2002), and JARHEAD (2005), which turned out to be a strong anti-war film in the guise of a gung-ho actioner. He has been called the "new" Kubrick by some. He is married to Kate Winslet, and they have homes in London and California .

    Alan Ball, who wrote the screenplay, is a noted New York playwright. He was having lunch one windy day at the World Trade Center Plaza , and he watched a paper bag frisking and floating in the breeze; giving him the inspiration to write first a play, and then a screenplay. The theatrical version has never been produced. An outspoken gay activist and practitioner, he weaved the homosexual references expertly into the fabric of the story. It was not overdone, and it was certainly not overlooked. Much of the final action of the plot hinged on homophobia and closeted eroticism.

    One of the most striking things about the movie was the astonishingly good cinematography by veteran cameraman Conrad L. Hall. He won an Oscar for his effort on the film. He gave us some masterful set ups that played lovingly with light and shadow, a bit reminiscent of James Wong Howe. I really noticed this by accident when I viewed the movie in black and white as a mistake of projection. The color red was the prominent motif for much of the movie--deep red roses in vases in nearly every room in the Burnham household, roses dominating the garden along the white picket fence, the only house in the neighborhood with a bright red door, a 1970 red Pontiac Firebird, and of course blood, which makes an appearance as well. In addition Lester's middle-aged fantasies and dreams about young Angela were dripping with red rose petals, bursting from her unzipped bodice, covering the ceiling as she hovered there, filling the steaming tub that she languished in while "awaiting" him. Secondary to a short shooting schedule several of the scenes had to be shot at night, and Hall had to light them to appear as day shots. He was very successful in this endeavor.

    The wonderfully pounding driving musical score was written by veteran composer Thomas Newman. Mendes was interested in unique scoring, percussion and mallet instruments -and this intriguing thwacking moved the plot along, all the while building tension and interest. Later Newman and Conrad Hall teamed up again with Mendes when they made ROAD TO PERDITION (2002).

    Kevin Spacey was excellent, pitch perfect, on the mark as Lester Burnham, a kind of 90's Willy Loman. Being faced with depression, discontent, unfulfilled sexual needs, and a mid-life crisis, somehow he found the presence of mind to put his world in order. To our delight he told off his dreary supervisor, told him where to shove their job, and then blackmailed the boss for a tidy sum, citing administrative misuse of funds for libation and prostitutes. He rushed away from the white collar stress, and blissfully got a job flipping burgers at Smiley's, became infatuated with his daughter's friend, Angela, began pumping iron to impress her, became a stoner buying from Ricky, the kid next door, and he purchased his fantasy car--a 1970 red Firebird. In the midst of all this bizarre behavior, he rediscovered himself, saying that he "was tired of being treated that I don't exist."

    Annette Bening as the wife, Carolyn, infused the part with a focused, mannered, manic hectic energy, misdirecting her considerable passion toward her garden and career at the expense of her relationship with her family, and her marriage. She was a walking jabbering divorce waiting to happen. Oddly I detected a slight lisp in her dialogue that I had not noticed in her past performances; maybe it was character driven. Thora Birch, a child actress all grown up at 17 years old, played daughter Jane. Her nude scene was daring and unexpected. She underplayed and worked well with her eyes - her timing and transitions were bang on. We all have known this teenager in our lives. Chris Cooper was very intense, real, and dislikable as Col. Frank Fitts, USMC. It was not clear to me whether he was active duty or retired. In one of the earlier drafts of the screenplay, we discovered that Fitts had a gay lover that had died in Viet Nam . I am sad that bit was cut. It could have given even more depth to the Colonel; of course that depended on when it was revealed. The kiss in the rain scene was wonderfully shocking, and it certainly did not need to be deleted. Wes Bentley was mercurial, magnetic, creepy, and very self-assured as the "strange kid" next door, Ricky Fitts. He played him so clever that Ricky was always two jumps ahead of his parents, his teachers, and his school mates. Beyond being the new kid in school, he was extra hard to get to know. Neighbor Jane was at first creeped out by him, than she became fascinated as she learned to appreciate his intellect and sensitivity, as they became an item. Allison Janney played his put-upon wife, Barbara; her almost catatonic stillness was haunting and horrific--a woman who had chosen to shut down rather than live in a battle zone. Mena Suvari, also a child actress, was 19 years old when she shot BEAUTY. She was tantalizing and tragic as Miss Popular, Angela Hayes, who incessantly talked about sex to mantle her lack of experience and her lack of courage. Getting by all her life on her looks, nevertheless she had no real self-confidence. She wanted to be a teen model, but one got the feeling that she lacked the drive to make it happen. She was 19 years old when she filmed BEAUTY.

    I loved the film, and have enjoyed repeated viewings. It is a very dark comedy that became a drama as it played out. The tragedy was connected to the humor, and yet I continuously hoped that Lester will be spared; and he never was. It is like I feel each time I watch WEST SIDE STORY (1961), hoping that Tony will not be shot during the next viewing, or that Kirk Douglas will make it out of SPARTACUS without being crucified. Thank God the director edited out the original ending where Jane and Ricky were brought to trial and then jailed for Lester's murder, as the Colonel's wife destroyed the bloody t-shirt.

    ...more info
  • technically beautiful ... morally crap
    It should take more than technical perfection to deserve recognition by the Academy.

    The plot is expertly crafted. The direction is superb. The acting immaculate. The photography and editing exemplify the highest standards of film making.

    We learn nothing useful from this film. In this case the senseless death of the hero character is an insult. This film was a waste of good cellulose. What would have been useful is the way back ... teaching us how to turn desperate and deteriorating relationships around ... and move forward....more info
  • the reality of life and what we do to survive
    the lives of families are intertwined by their search for happiness and hiden emptiness. it shows what we think we want will make us happy and how we are forced to conform to strict rules to survive
    jm...more info
  • Enough has been said but....
    There have been so many reviews of this movie I will limit my comment to state my sheer amazement after reading the 1 STAR reviews ...

    It is beyond comprehension this brilliant piece of artistry can be rated below 3 STARS by anyone.... In my mind it is one of the most socio-realistic screen plays that have ever come out of Hollywood - not due to the (perhaps overly) tragicomic characterizations but because each character represents something real in all of us... But maybe that does not resonate with those among us who prefer to see the world as black and white rather than the accumulation of shades of grey we all live and live in.

    For me this is one of my top10 movies of all time and one of the very few I can watch again and again. ...more info
  • Very bad energy
    Wow...Based on the reviews I thought this would be a good movie, perhaps a great movie. Folks it isn't. It's like taking a trip to the dump, garbage in every direction. Unbelievably gross and repugnant human beings. Foul language abounds as do hateful people without morals or values. I didn't even make it to the half-way point of this film yet the extreme bad vibrations stayed with me for a good long while afterwards. Do yourself a favor, stay away from this cesspool. ...more info
  • A Beautiful American Film
    American Beauty" is another modern day film that it seems to me has fallen foul of the narrow-minded vision of the marketing men and those responsible for the film's trailers. They must really hate it when an almost genre-less film like this comes along and they simply do not know how to classify it or what to write up as the advertising blurb.
    I was expecting a tale of a teenage femme fetale and her effects on an depressed aging middle-aged male, but also was expecting a sniggering "black comedy" as the back of the box had told me.
    I got neither, but what I did get was the most engaging and intelligent film I have seen for a long while. I do have some sympathies with the advertising men as the film is pretty had to classify. It's not a black comedy and yet there are some genuinely amusing scenes. It's not a tale of a middle class American family and yet it almost solely features the Burnham family and those close to them. I guess the best I can do to describe it is call it a modern day saga of the breakdown of relationships.

    Every single one of the characters shown has some sort of problem with the way their lives are developing, (apart from the smiley happy gay couple next door.) Lester Burnham is the classic 40 something miserable burned out executive. His wife doesn't love or care for him anymore, she is only concerned that he doesn't embarrass her. His daughter doesn't talk to him anymore and has confessed to her boyfriend she would like him dead. Lester for his own part undermines and belittles his wife at every opportunity, he unashamedly lusts after his daughter's school friend and ridicules and alienates his bosses until they are forced to fire him. Their neighbours, the Fitts, include ex-marine Col Frank Fitts, a stoic military type who forces his son into giving urine samples to test for drug abuse. The son, Ricky, a camera fanatic has taken to filming the local goings on including some dubious footage of the Burnham family. There are plenty more besides this motley selection and it is the quirks and oddities of the characters that makes the film what it is, but at the same time the oddities are ones that we can relate to and maybe even rather scarily see in ourselves. Again for nearly all the characters we can find traits we despise and yet because of failings in other areas we feel sympathy for them at the same time.

    The performances are to a man extremely accomplished and well executed. Kevin Spacey won a deserved Oscar for his portrayal of Lester Burnham and Annette Bening was also nominated. Their performances and those of the other actors are all played with delicacy, humanity and a great deal of believability.

    Well recommended and a must see for any fans of the cinema....more info