More About American Beauty
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 Ricky's militaristic father, Colonel Fitts (Chris Cooper), discovers something potentially horrifying on one of his tapes, and when Carolyn's rage for Lester's actions boils over, the time bomb finally explodes.
1999 - Academy Awards - Best Picture Winner
1999 - Academy Awards - Best Actor Winner
1999 - Academy Awards - Best Cinematography Winner
1999 - Academy Awards - Best Director Winner
1999 - Academy Awards - Best Original Screenplay Winner
Main Cast & Crew
Sam Mendes - Director
Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is a gainfully employed suburban husband and father. Fed up with his boring, stagnant existence, he quits his job and decides to reinvent himself as a pot-smoking, responsibility-shirking teenager. What follows is at once cynical, hysterical, and, eventually, tragically uplifting. A flawless cast (Spacey, Bening, Birch, Suvari, Bentley, and especially Cooper) combines to deliver one of the decade's strongest ensemble performances in this multiple-Oscar-winning film. Director Sam Mendes, already a wunderkind in the world of British theater, proves that his talent isn't limited to the stage in his feature-length debut.
AMERICAN BEAUTY composer Thomas Newman won a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.
"...Consistently provocative and devilishly amusing....AMERICAN BEAUTY is a real American original..." Variety, p.40-50
Ranked #1 in Rolling Stone's "Ten Best Movies of 1999" -- "...[A] justly celebrated look at what gets lost in life when we numb ourselves to feeling..." - 01/20/2000 Rolling Stone, p.63-4
"...Sees beauty in our most common mistakes and failures. This is a masterpiece..." -- 5 out of 5 stars - 06/01/2000 Premiere, p.99
"...AMERICAN BEAUTY is that rare instance where all the elements of a movie -- story, setting, acting, shot construction -- come together to convey its message..." - 11/01/1999 Box Office, p.166
"...Spacey gives sardonic snap to every line he delivers....The movie is a beaut. It's as feeling as it is funny, a quality recent movies seemed to have lost..." - 09/15/1999 USA Today, p.1D
"...Unsettling, unnerving, undefinable....BEAUTY is a blood-chilling dark comedy with unexpected moments of both fury and warmth, a strange, brooding and very accomplished film that sets us back on our heels from its opening frames..." - 09/15/1999 Los Angeles Times, p.C1
"...Spacey, an actor who embodies intelligence in his eyes and voice, is the right choice for Lester Burnham..." - 09/24/1999 Chicago Sun-Times, p.29