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American Beauty

Released: October 1, 1999

Director: Sam Mendes

Actors: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, Chris Cooper, Allison Janney, Peter Gallagher

Screenplay: Alan Ball

Run Time: 122 minutes

Rating: R

Who Should See It?

Anyone who can appreciate a little dark humor, not a lot of violence, and knows a good movie when they see one. If you never thought a plastic bag blowing in the wind could be beautiful you should watch this movie.

Why You Should See It?

As my second favorite movie, American Beauty is wonderful. It explores the American middle class and shows just how much conformity and rising to other people’s standards, not yours, can make you a prisoner. This movie is hilarious, touching, eye-opening, and dramatic. It has something for everyone.

Plot Overview

American Beauty starts with Lest Burnham (Spacey) stating that this is his neighborhood and street and that jerking off in the shower will be the highlight of his day. We see how miserable he is at his job, How his wife (Bening) just wants to be a success, and how his daughter Jane (Birch) resents both of them. Lester begins to change his life when he becomes infactuated with Jane’s friend Angela (Suvari). Another character who helps Lester out is there new neighbor Ricky Fitts (Bentley). Ricky smokes pot with Lester and finds Jane interesting. His father (Cooper) was a Colonel in the Marines who is homophobic and extremely strict. Together all these people change their lives for the better, or worse throughout the movie and by the end they don’t seem so normal anymore.



This is one of those movies where you take anything out of context it sounds either extremely gross and weird or cliche. But put together, the characters are inspiring and you feel sorry for every single one of them. (Even Carolyn though Bening’s fantastic performance) Lester is the every man’s hero. He tells his boss to F-off, buys the car of his dreams, and becomes carefree. His wife, Carolyn, just wants to be successful at her job. We all want this. Jane wants to be beautiful and only accepts who she is once Ricky falls for her. This movie shows the desire to be important to someone and that by simply asking someone how they are doing every once and awhile will make them happy. These are things that everyone can relate to. The humor really shines through when you watch the movie the second time. The other thing that sets this movie apart from others is the score. The music is fantastic. It helps make the movie a little lighter in some places and more serious in others. This movie probably won’t change your life but it will make you notice the little things in life that are truly amazing.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 88%

RT Fan Rating: 90%

Other Notes:

This movie won 5 oscars including: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Spacey), Best Original Screenplay, and Best Cinematography.

The roses represent Carolyn. You can usually see them in the house to represent that she is always there.

Ricky’s film of the plastic bag is hypnotizing and stunning. It is absolutely beautiful.

Even though this movie isn’t known for a great twist, there is a bit of a surprise at the end.

This was Mendes’s film directing debut and Ball’s first feature length screenplay.

Please don’t post any spoilers. This movie is great and everyone should get to see it without knowing too much about it.


About durden99

I live a pretty boring life but over the years this boring life has allowed me to develop a love and appreciation for the the television and movie industries. I realized that I loved movies when I would sit down and watch the credits when the rest of my friends and family would leave. I have a deep respect for anyone in the TV or film making industries. My all time favorite movie is Fight Club because of the lessons it teaches and for its overall impact on my life.

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