American Beauty
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Customer Reviews:

  • *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
  • American masterpiece.
    This film is not to ordinary people! It is a film to the same people capable of understanding films like "Blade Runner", La Dolce Vita, Saving Private Ryan, Forrest Gump and others masterpieces. It is a film to people capable of discerning between something good and bad, people that read truly good books and listen to truly good music. "It is not to people that like films with Chuck Norris, Jennifer Lopez, and Madonna, and consider both Sylvester Stallone and Madonna respectively the best actor and actress ever". When I saw this film for the very first time I recognized immediately his value, it is a portrait of a complete alienation of the modern life where the next step is just stay acting all the time as if the life was a "B film" with a very poor script indeed, and the worst thing is that you look at your side and see that everybody has been acting the same "B film" with the same poor script. What happens in this case is that the character of Kevin Spacey discovers one day this reality and tries to recover the meaning of his life, but he knows that this means to get away from this style of living, just getting rid of the life he has been living for years and this is not an easy thing to do. Watching it is like to be put in front of a big mirror. Soon people around him start to react against his sudden liberty and their final achievement is to eliminate him as a kind of a vengeance, because his real liberty was too aggressive to their hypocrisy. In the end he is assassinated for the same reason those "two bikers were assassinated in the film Easy Rider", because he is "Too Free" and has been showing to the others their futile and useless way of living. Is a very courageous film. Bravo, The script is terrific, "and some scenes are pure poetry". It is sad to read reviews of people saying that don't like this film because of some sexual scenes, in a country that is the major producer of pornography in the whole world, what is the prove that this film is right, we have to change this society immediately. ...more info
  • Still Hollywood, but Enjoyable
    American Beauty kind of reminds me of Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica. Althought not as split evenly, and it definitely has less detractors, American Beauty is thought as either deep, provocative, and wickedly funny, or a grating, unrealistic, fake portrayal of family life, that plays out like a sitcom. Now, I am not one who automatically plays the Ghandi, being a neutral leader in the middle, somewhat frowning at both, but I'm really torn on this movie. It just does so many things right, but at the same time, does a lot of things wrong as well.

    First off, the acting in this movie is terrific. Kevin Spacey deserved whatever awards he got for best actor. Sometimes funny, emotional, perverted, sick, frightening, angry, and sometimes even all at once, his talent definitely shows. Chris Cooper plays the sadistic Colonial Fitts, and he does a great job showing how insane and mean he can be. The first time he beats the crap out of his son, I was pretty shaken up (note maybe it comes from having a father similar to him some ways). Those actors impressed me more than the others, although everyone else does fine jobs as well. And really, I give props to all the actors for kissing one another (especially Chris Cooper and Kevin Spacey). Remember, they have to be convincing with their kisses (and probably had to it more than once!). It's sometimes just fun to watch for the acting alone, even if I don't exactly agree with some of the story.

    However, while the plot is not too bad, the movie has a big tendency to fall into the pretentious. I mean, while sometimes I ACTUALLY DO feel there is so much beauty in the world (especially in nature), I do not think a plastic bag is a thing of beauty. The bag metaphor is just laughable. I agree that the slogan "Look Closer" is arrogrant as ______, too. If you don't get it, you aren't deep enough, and you need to look closer or else your a fool. Give me a _________ break. That is just ridicolous. The characters on here really aren't as profound or realistic as you think, pretty Hollywood, and embody some stereotypes. The closeted homosexual, really, who didn't see that one coming?

    Still though, while not deep, and definitely not a realstic portrayel of Suburan life really (I don't buy it, besides, how would the screewriter's know, did they study the suburbia beyond their own home? Probably not). The characters still are likeable, if a bit unrealistic. The plot is fine, so leave it alone.

    Don't believe the hype on this one for the most part, but I still reccomend watching it for sure. I still think that if you watch it without expecting yourself go into introspection (yeah right), you will enjoy it. You may love it, you may hate it, but you should definitely watch it.

    Also, the Boston Celtics logo rip-off is probably the worst thing I have ever seen in my life. Give me a break. Can you at least rip the logo off of the Sacramento Kings or the Los Angeles Clippers, or even the Utah Jazz (Lakers 4-0 in round one!)? Celtics deserve more respect than that (I'm a Lakers fan, but respect Boston anyway).

    B-...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
  • 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
  • Not an "American" issue...
    I enjoyed all the feedback and interesting comments and points of view about the "issues" this movie conveys. But a sad truth that we all seem to miss is that the United States is a huge country with people from many different races and cultures all mixed and blended together. Add to this mix a society and culture that thrives on materialism and self-centeredness and you have what American Beauty attempts to communicate and raise our awareness about.

    Needless to say, this movie does not portray an "American" issue, it effectively raises our awareness that IT IS a world issue because of the fact that most nations around the world make up what we like to call our "American Society and Culture." I DO agree with Mrs. Walker when she stated, "...it's a sad day when a movie likes this says something this important about who we are as a culture. A sad day indeed..." People like to say that this movie displays an "American" issue and it thrashes its culture, but it is a sad world out there where all nations and cultures have been "sedated" with its own desires for personal gain and power. BUT, thank the Lord that there is still "good" out there, around the whole globe...but we are just too "blind" to see this subtle beauty that surrounds us daily...
    ...more info
  • A MIDDLE-AMERICAN COCKTAIL
    Although AMERICAN BEAUTY boasts one of the finest casts in recent memory, and Sam Mendes direction was flawless in this superb film about disparate, disjointed mid-America, Alan Ball's script is the true star here. The dialogue is so crisp, and ascerbic that at times it's hard to realize how 'human' and incredibly moving some of the scenes were, because only a moment before you were laughing at the absurdly, seemingly irrelevant incongruities in one dysfunctional character, or another , or perhaps the edginess of the previous satirical situation, and though this was not as disturbing as David Lynch's vision of suburbia ( BLUE VELVET ), it was much more moving. This movie should be in any serious film collection....more info
  • American Beauty DVD
    American Beauty is a very well-done, powerful movie. It kept our attention until the end....more info
  • This is BY FAR the best movie that I have had the chance to lay my eyes on!
    Let's get this out of the way: Annette Bening (Carolyn) totally steals the show. She shows so many different sides to a human being, especially the extreme. She's super peppy and I almost loved to hate her in the movie. Kevin Spacey was pretty good. He plays a depressed man named Lester who's highlight of the day is pleasuring himself in the shower in the morning. In many ways I could relate to this character. Actually, most of the characters are relate able. Lester and Carolyn have a daughter by the name of Jane. She's pretty mean to her parents and wishes they would just disappear. I liked her character, but Mena Suvari's character was even better. I like the scene where some girl says "You're no goddamn Christie Turlington." Her response to that was very funny.

    The ending was quite exciting with many things going on so I was definitely sad when it was over...I'm glad they never made a part II to it too because they probably would have tainted the name.

    I left a lot out but I'll just say that if you haven't seen the movie, you really need to. Rent it, buy it, borrow it from a friend; whatever. Just get your grubby paws on it. It shows how beautifully messed up life can be. Bittersweet really. :)...more info
  • It's in the bag.
    Suburban angst turns funny then tragic. We should all reach the spiritual level Kevin Spacey's Lester Burnham reaches in his last hours.
    The kid with the video camera becomes a surprising focal point thanks to a superb acting performance by Wes Bentley. The kid and his recording of the floating plastic bag hold the key to the spiritual treasure of "American Beauty."
    This first-time collaboration of director Sam Mendes and screenwriter Alan Ball is a prime example of what Hollywood could deliver more of if the studio executives ever got their heads out of the sequels and the comic books. I'm convinced there are other fine scripts floating around waiting for the will and the daring to produce them.
    ...more info
  • 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 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
  • Heavy Irony on Amazon
    I'm always surprised by how many people do not appreciate this movie. The reasons people give for not liking it ARE OFTEN INCREDIBLY IRONIC.....think about it.

    The movie says that morals (and pretty much everything else in life) are relative and subject to being perceived in every possible way...

    Hell, Shakespeare said "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." -Hamlet

    Society is often so focused on nonsense that we all accept it without really stopping to think.

    People read beauty magazines so they think people will love them more, and in turn people loving them will make them love themselves (Caroline). Many women have ingrained themselves so strongly in this that eating disorders have become a rampant problem in the U.S. With television shows like "The Swan," "American Idol," and who knows what else...it's no wonder this is the case.

    Who says that smoking marijuana is "bad?" Who says that being fat is "bad?" Who says that being a homosexual is "bad?" Who says that never being afraid of anything is "bad?" In fact, why are we all so afraid of everything?? WHO is telling us to always be afraid? I think this is a very very important question in today's society.

    Who says that a bag floating in the wind (litter) is necessarily "bad?" To really be content in life you have to perceive "reality" the way you want to. Not the way people (and the media) tell you to.

    The fact that Lester Burnham chose to work at a fast-food restaurant, smoke pot, and lust after an underage girl (was she under 18?) is irrelevant.

    He could have done anything other than what he was doing. He could have chosen to get up and follow his dream of starting a business, take over the world, become a monk in the mountains...IT DOESN'T MATTER. Was what he really did that "bad?" That's what made him content because that is the role HE WANTED to play in this world, but never had the guts to actually play out for himself.

    If you've seen Fight Club the concept is pretty much the same (also came out in 1999, coincidence?) I like Fight Club, but this movie is much better. I believe Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) makes a statement like, "People do it everyday. They look into the mirror and see the person they'd like to be, but don't have the guts to run with it like you did."

    The point is that THIS is what LESTER wanted to do. NOT Caroline, not his boss, and most importantly NOT SOCIETY.

    Of course there are limits to this. Hurting people is never a good route. I doubt the movie was advocating people with the dream of being a serial killer to become a serial killer...Though of course Shakespeare's quote also applies here. Think about it...

    The movie is saying that people need to stop being robotic automatons and become the person that they want to be, not what everyone else "thinks" they should be.

    THINK. It's the greatest gift you'll ever have....more info
  • Sticks With You
    Watched this movie for the first time last night. I found the movie to be haunting in that it reflected my life and I would imagine a great many other's lives. We spend our life chasing money, status, the perfect home and career and somehow we lose ourselves in the process, and when we finally end up with what we have been working so hard to obtain all these years, we find we are empty, bitter shells of what we once were. A very eye opening movie 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
  • all hail alan ball
    it should be no surprise that this is one of the greatest films ever made; just look who wrote the screenplay. that's right, alan ball,
    who also created the greatest television series of all time, "six feet under." coincidence? i think not.
    mr. ball will have a new series premiering on hbo(too good to be television) called "true blood" in autumn 2007....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
  • Seems like the perfect life. But look a little closer...
    American Beauty (1999) Lester and Carolyn Burnham seem to have it all: a nice house, two well-paid jobs, a couple of expensive cars, and a beautiful daughter. But as is so often true in these modern times, a lot of dysfunction hides behind the mask of happy normalcy.
    In truth, Lester (Kevin Spacey) is going middle age crazy, pining for his carefree youth and making goo-goo eyes at his daughter's Lolita-like best friend. Carolyn (Annette Bening) has discovered that "having it all" isn't nearly enough; she throws herself into her real estate job to try to compensate. And the daughter is going through that economy sized variety pack of teen angst, ranging from insecurity to parent loathing. Add in a set of new next door neighbors with their own problems (Dad's a bigoted ex-Marine; Mom's a zoned out space case, and son is a fairly creepy video voyeur); stir them all together well, and you have the perfect recipe for suburban disaster.
    Director Sam Mendes, writer Alan Bell, and especially the actors make the most of this dramatic black comedy. The mix is perfectly realized, with laugh out loud scenes that nonetheless have a sense of tragedy and doom about them.
    Writer Ball has a background in sitcoms, so it's no surprise that ther is a lot of sharp tongued verbal byplay. More surprising is how well a thirty-four year old director can guide his actors through the minefield of fortysomething neuroses. But then, you don't hire actors like Spacey and Bening because they'll do a mean karaoke at the wrap party. Spacey is as excellent as he is expected to be, and he is matched scene for scene by the slightly underrated Bening. The rest of the cast lend fine support, with newcomer Wes Bentley standing out.
    This is a quirky, somewhat unusual film, with a few stylized fantasy scenes that add to the flavor overall. If you enjoy such productions, this is definitely a good choice to sink your teeth into. Also with Peter Gallagher (Summer Lovers) and Chris Cooper (Lone Star)....more info
  • Truly beautiful in an alarmingly tragic way...
    Standing tall as one of my all time favorite films and one of the most deserved Best Picture wins of all time, `American Beauty' never loses its impression on me. I'm forever in awe at its overall magnitude; its presence that is so overwhelmingly absorbing. From Kevin Spacey's fantastic Oscar winning performance to each and every supporting player the cast is golden and the charisma and chemistry is dynamic and ultimately unrivaled. What makes `American Beauty' so enthralling and captivating to me is the sheer relatable atmosphere and utter honesty that it portrays. This is a life not unlike our own, with the same dilemmas and controversies, the same dreams and ambitions and no matter how perfect we think we have things there is always something missing, and sooner or later we're going to have to make a change in order to find our center. Brilliantly, and I mean that with every fiber of the words very meaning, `American Beauty' fleshes out that very innate desire.

    The film follows Lester Burnham as he goes through his mid-life crisis, realizing that his wife doesn't love him anymore, his daughter finds him creepy and uninteresting, his job infuriates him; basically that his life in general is far from what he wants it to be. Through a catalog of events he begins to make serious changes, starting with his growing infatuation with his daughters cheerleading friend Angela. He begins to work out more, eat better and enjoy a little recreational drug provided by his neighbor's son Ricky. He quits his job and starts up working at the local burger joint where he can slack off and live life a teenager. He buys the ridiculously expensive sports car because he wants to and develops an attitude that repels those around him intent on dragging him down. In essence Lester becomes the man that everyman wishes he could become but lacks the `balls' to do it himself. Lester is everyman, just pushed to the limit of what any man can take.

    But this film is far more than just about a single man and his crisis. Lester's wife Caroline is also going through a bit of a mid-lifer herself. She's finally come to the realization that she is more than Lester will ever be and she wants, no she needs someone that's a better fit for her. Lester proves himself a constant embarrassment to her, and his newfound identity is making it difficult for her to function in their life together. Lester's daughter Jane is pulling away from her parents due to their apparent insanity. She can't take them anymore, her mothers constant bickering and hysterics, her father's pedophilic lust for her best friend and sudden `cool guy' syndrome. She distances herself from Angela and forms a closer connection with her neighbor Ricky, a boy who opens her eyes to the real beauty that surrounds her.

    But both Ricky and Angela themselves offer insight into the growing pandemic surrounding the American public as a whole. The film effortlessly exposes the common issues that are present in almost every home and exist within almost every human being. Ricky exists in a household run with a cold fist by his father. His every move is scrutinized and so he acts out in rebellion by living his life the exact opposite of his father's wishes, albeit behind his back. Angela is the classic case of girl-hates-self, girl-needs-attention but here she feeds off her characters energy, and most of all Spacey's energy and helps create a character that is in the end so touching and so real. Her final confrontation with Jane and Ricky is so heartbreaking and her feeling of rejection from Lester is so real. I actually was moved by her character almost as much as Spacey's.

    The entire cast, not just Spacey, pull out all the stops here. Annette Bening is flawless as Lester's controlling and hysterical wife (and I mean hysterical in both of its forms, both hilarious when needed and outrageously dramatic when needed). Thora Birch is also dynamic as Jane, and Wes Bently brilliantly captures his characters unique outlook at adolescence. Mena Suvari though really stood out for me as Angela, as did Chris Cooper who plays the domineering and controlling father effortlessly. Peter Gallagher also develops a nice supporting character, although he comes off more as a cameo, and that's hard for me to acknowledge since under normal circumstances I find him nauseating. Here though he is fantastic, both charming and endearing while equally repulsive and condescending. How he manages to pull that off is beyond me. Each and every actor here benefits greatly from the brilliant script, that's for sure.

    So, in closing, `American Beauty' is everything that is beautiful about American cinema. It's engrossing, entertaining, refreshing but most of all moving and emotionally investing. I often battle my feelings about Spacey's win only because the competition that year was so steep and I feel Crowe gave the performance of a career, but every time I watch this brilliant film I'm reminded of why he deserved his win. He was so invested, so grounded in Lester that he created one of the most likable sinners of all time, a man who we grew to love and embrace despite his faults. `American Beauty' will always be one of the most deserving Oscar winners to date and will be remembered every time we look in the mirror....more info
  • American Beauty
    This superlative drama by theater director Sam Mendes peers at the dark side of American middle-class life with ripe, risqu¨¦ humor and aching poignancy. Both screenwriter Alan Ball and cinematographer Conrad L. Hall were honored along with Mendes at the 1999 Academy Awards for their evocation of suburban alienation, but Kevin Spacey, whose cool, cynical narration constitutes the film's central nervous system, deserved all the acclaim he received for bringing Lester to life (including a Best Actor Oscar). Working in a subplot involving Lester's new neighbors, an unhinged Marine (Chris Cooper) and his artsy, drug-dealing son (Wes Bentley), Mendes gives this "Beauty" a gut-wrenching finale that completes Lester's transformation....more info
  • Fantastic
    American Beauty is the greatest movie ever made.

    If you haven't already, watch American Beauty by yourself and give yourself some time afterwards to think it over. You will never, ever look at life the same way. It does exactly what movies are meant to do - give us a window into ourselves, and American Beauty does that better than any other film has ever done. No word of dialogue is unnecessary, no character exaggerated, everything is perfect...but if you have seen American Beauty you should know that already. Once you look closer at this movie, and see Beauty in every frame, it becomes so much easier to look closer and see Beauty in everything around you. You think I'm waxing poetic? Then you must not have seen the movie. Every character is a part of each of us: the Lester Burnham of change, the Carolyn of uncertainty and failure, the rebellion of Jane, the defeated Barbara, the false control of Angela and the Colonel, and the real control of Ricky. To me Ricky, not Lester, is the center of this story; he somehow controls or sets in motion the heart of Lester's rebirth and downfall. There are several parts of this movie where I lose control every time I see it, and none more so than the paper bag scene. To me that scene is simply the greatest monologue ever written.

    I listened to the message of American Beauty - look closely and you can find Beauty in anything - and it changed my life. I rose out of a long, deep depression and started out into the world. Sometimes there is so much Beauty in the world, I can't even stand it, and it feels like my heart is going to burst.

    This is the most beautiful movie I have ever seen. ...more info
  • Perfect ain't so perfect.
    Lester (Kevin Spacey) is middle aged and living what on the outside looks like a perfect life. Big house in a nice neighborhood, 2 cars, pretty wife and daughter, and a good job. But on the inside, he's miserable. His job sucks and he has to answer to a younger boss that hasn't even been there a few months. His wife is cold `b' and doesn't even want to have sex with him. His daughter hates him for reasons unknown. And he just really doesn't even like himself that much either. Then one day, he goes to a basketball game with his wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) to watch his daughter Jane (Thora Birch) do her performance in her cheerleading squad. That day changes his life on the spot. He sees Angela (Mena Suvari), Jane's friend, out on the court also, and he realizes his life is in a rut and he wants to be free from it. He quits his job and starts to work out again (mainly to get Angela's attention). He sells his car to get the car of his dreams. And he starts to smoke pot.

    Luckily his new next door neighbor, Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley) is a pot dealer. Not only a pot dealer but a weird documentarian that goes to school with Jane. Ricky's dad is a tough father who is also a homophobic Colonel in the marine corp. He loves his son, but sure doesn't know how to show it correctly. Though Ricky and Jane start to like each other, the interactions between Ricky and Lester leave the dad to wondering what is really going on between the two.

    Carolyn, though a coldhearted `B', used to not be what she is today. She was once a fun loving free spirited girl, but Lester has no clue where that girl went. She's so wrapped up in her real estate business she doesn't even think of Lester anymore. Her arch nemesis in the biz is Buddy Kane, and even though she tries her best to beat the man, nothing works and it makes her incredibly stressed out. As Lester is trying to work out his mid-life crisis, his wife Carolyn is working out her stress in a much different way.

    American Beauty is such a great movie. The way it looks into the soul of the normal suburbanite family is really funny and great. Nothing is perfect no matter how it looks. Somedays I really feel like Lester even though I'm not married or have kids. Where I'm just stuck doing the same thing every day and then `BAM', I go a little crazy and break out of that shell. I've even quit my job before because of this. Thank God to, because now I'm much happier. Though you can't help but feel bad for Lester. At least I do. He did so much to support his family, to have them only hate him in the end. Sure he's not always there for his daughter, but that's no reason to be hated. She actually joked about killing him. Seriously... what the heck. Her life could be a million times worse. And his wife, ugh, I'm not even going to go into it. How a woman could do what she does to him is ridiculous. And even though Ricky Fitts is friggin crazy, he's still a cool character. I don't buy into that whole `deep' and `emo' stuff he says about floating bags and dead people/animals, but how he's so blunt about things makes me really like that character.

    In the end, I would definitely watch this movie. Such a great story, and such a sad ending.


    P.S. - I really hope Angela was 18.
    ...more info
  • not my genre
    I really liked "existentialist" lit and those Russian literary genres (pathetic character dramedy) when I was a teenager but can no longer stomache them. I never cared for the work of Kaiser Soeze. I find mid-life crisises to be a boring subject. Many of the details are absurd and hard to swallow. I'm not a fan of fractured plots esp. plots that start with the ending - what could be more played out? starting with the main characters death is not new or clever (like in "The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas"from the 1800s -or a more direct cinamatic comparison "Sunset Boulevard" with the main characters voice over and sympathetic conclusion to the love triangle before the big finale).

    But I do appreciate that amalgam of literary, theatrical and clean cinematic/TV writing styles that went into the story. And I liked the look of the film. I'm sure it deserves all it's praise....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.

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  • 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