8.4/10
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2,770 user 189 critic

American Beauty (1999)

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A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.

Director:

Sam Mendes

Writer:

Alan Ball
Popularity
432 ( 88)
Top Rated Movies #68 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 105 wins & 100 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kevin Spacey ... Lester Burnham
Annette Bening ... Carolyn Burnham
Thora Birch ... Jane Burnham
Wes Bentley ... Ricky Fitts
Mena Suvari ... Angela Hayes
Peter Gallagher ... Buddy Kane
Allison Janney ... Barbara Fitts
Chris Cooper ... Colonel Fitts
Scott Bakula ... Jim Olmeyer
Sam Robards ... Jim Berkley
Barry Del Sherman ... Brad
Ara Celi ... Sale House Woman #1
John Cho ... Sale House Man #1
Fort Atkinson Fort Atkinson ... Sale House Man #2
Sue Casey Sue Casey ... Sale House Woman #2
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Storyline

After his death sometime in his forty-third year, suburbanite Lester Burnham tells of the last few weeks of his life, during which he had no idea of his imminent passing. He is a husband to real estate agent Carolyn Burnham and father to high school student Janie Burnham. Although Lester and Carolyn once loved each other, they now merely tolerate each other. Typical wallflower Janie too hates both her parents, the three who suffer individually in silence in their home life. Janie tries to steer clear of both her parents. Carolyn, relatively new to the real estate business, wants to create the persona of success to further her career, she aspiring to the professional life of Buddy Kane, the king of the real estate business in their neighborhood. Lester merely walks mindlessly through life, including at his job in advertising. His company is downsizing, and he, like all the other employees, has to justify his position to the newly hired efficiency expert to keep his job. Things change ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

... look closer

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

16 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

DreamWorks | Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 January 2000 (Netherlands) See more »

Also Known As:

Belleza americana See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$861,531, 19 September 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$130,096,601

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$226,200,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS | Dolby

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The contrast of something red on a white background is used throughout the film. Examples of this include: red rose petals in a white bath tub and a white ceiling, blood on a white shirt and white floor, the red car in front of the white garage door, the red front door surrounded by white frame and walls. See more »

Goofs

The white decorative pillow Lester picks up and throws off Carolyn's precious blue and white striped silk sofa bounces off the floor and lands in the armchair behind him, returns to it's original position against the arm of the sofa in the next shot and then reappears in the armchair when the camera cuts back to Lester.. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jane Burnham: I need a father who's a role model, not some horny geek-boy who's gonna spray his shorts whenever I bring a girlfriend home from school. What a lame-o. Someone really should just put him out of his misery.
Ricky Fitts: Want me to kill him for you?
Jane Burnham: Yeah. Would you?
See more »

Crazy Credits

thanks to all at the Donmar Warehouse in London and Dr. Bill and Alice See more »

Connections

Referenced in Soof (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Use Me
Written and Performed by Bill Withers
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An Oscar well deserved.
29 May 2000 | by RueMorgueSee all my reviews

This film is one of a kind. After seeing this film last week, I was left with a hole in the pit of my stomach. It left many questions in my mind, and most of them cannot be answered. In my view, a film that makes me think after I watch it is second-to-none, and this film certainly delivers in that aspect.

I was amazed with the vivid imagery in this movie, as well as with the symbolism. However, 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 add 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 Sam Mendes for his direction of this film, as well as Alan Ball for writing it. I don't think it could have been any better.

Rated R in the U.S. for strong sexuality, language, drug content, and violence, the film obviously deserves its rating. However, none of the causes for the R rating are overbearing, and all of them add to the plot-line of this film. While I don't think that this is a film for children, I would suggest that adults should view it with an open mind. I believe that the traits which many of the characters in this film have are found in many people around the world. Perhaps that is why this film hits close to home for so many viewers.

While billed by some as a "comedy-drama", I don't see anything about this film as funny. Sure, there are some comedic moments, but by the end, those moments were all but forgotten when faced with the grim reality of the conclusion of the events portrayed in this film.

If you want to watch a light-hearted film with some elements of comedy and some elements of drama, don't see American Beauty. But if you enjoy films that make you think, and are entertained by an excellent cast, excellent directing, and an excellent screenplay, this film should be at the top of your list.

My Rating: 10/10


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