Noted theater director Sam Mendes, who was responsible for the acclaimed 1998 revival of Cabaret and Nicole Kidman's turn in The Blu e Room, mad e his motion picture debut with this film about the dark side of an Amer ican family, and about the nature and price of be auty in a culture obse ssed with outward appearances. Kevin Spacey plays Lester Burnham, a man in his mid-40s going through an intens e midlife crisis; he's grown cyni cal and is convinced that he has no reason to go on. Lester's relationsh ip with his wife Carolyn (A nnette Bening) is not a warm one; while on t he surface Carolyn strives to present the image that she's in full contr ol of her life, inside she feels empty and desperate. Their teenage daug hter Jane (Thora Birch) is constantly depressed, lacking in self-esteem, and convinced that she's unattractive. Her problems aren't helped by h er best friend Angela (Mena Suvari), an aspiring model who is qui te bea utiful and believes that that alone makes her a worthwhile person. Jane isn't the only one who has noticed that Angela is attr active: Lester ha s fallen into uncontrollable lust for her, and she becomes part of his d rastic plan to change his body and change h is life. Meanwhile, next doo r, Colonel Fitts (Chris Cooper) has spent a lifetime in the Marine Corps and can understand and tolerate no other way of life, which makes life difficult for his son Ricky (Wes Bentley), an aspiring filmmaker and pa rt-time drug dealer w ho is obsessed with beauty, wherever and whatever it may be. American Beauty was also the screen debut for screenwriter Al an Ball.]]>
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Lester Burnham and the oddly compelling boy next door both discover the ability to see the true beauty in life, even in the most unlikely or mundane circumstances. Who is to be pitied more: Lester, whose life is snuffed out at the moment of pure joy and contentment, or his wife, who buys into the mantra that one must first attain the appearance of success in order to BE successful? She fiercely shuts down any intense emotion lest she be overwhelmed, and even her sexual encounters are comically farcical. "When did you become so joyless?" the soul-searching Lester asks his wife in a touching moment.
Ricky's character as the boy next door is haunting. He sees life as an artist and a poet; his serenity contrasts with the stark repression of his military father and soulless mother, and intrigues Lester's daughter Jane, who possesses Wednesday Addams' moon face and dour disposition. Her struggle of self-discovery contrasts with that of her best friend, the beautiful and perfect cheerleader Angela, whose insecurities are masked by sexual bravado.
This is a movie worth seeing . . . worth thinking about long after it's over . . . and a gentle reminder to live life authentically.
Meet Lester Burnham; a man who feels like he's completely dead inside. His wife and daughter despise him and do not show him any signs of respect. On the surface, the family seems like a picture-perfect family that everybody dreams about--but inside is a completely different matter. His wife is obsessed with material possessions and doesn't care for "petty" things like love or life, while his daughter resents herself because she isn't "perfect." Lester's mental coma is rudely interrupted when he meets his daughter's friend and starts fantasizing about her. The awakening might be due to a disturbing thought or feeling, but the wake-up call changes Lester and allows him to realize that there's always time to erase his "forced-image" and be the person he really is. This is all a set-up for a funny, disturbing and tragic movie.
I don't know about everybody else, but my mind was literally racing around when this movie was playing before my eyes. It's one of those films that allows you to pick up on something different upon each viewing. As I said in the beginning of the review, this film has a number of layers to it. There's so many different meanings and points to the film that it is nearly impossible to describe them all in one little review. Besides, the fun part of the movie is discovering these meanings and points for yourself.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very well acted. Not too many slip-ups and clichés to write about.Published 1 month ago by Harry Joseph
I loved this movie. I didn't get bored not once. I thought it was beautifully written and directed. This definitely is one of my new favorite books!! Highly recommend. 10/10Published 1 month ago by Trinity m.
One of the most pretentious movies ever. I struggle to find even one remotely good quality of the film. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Stuie299