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American Beauty (Region 2)

1,466 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Director Nick Love knows how to pick up a poisoned chalice. In choosing to tackle a modern day take on Alan Clarke's 1989 The Firm, he risks the wrath of upsetting those who regard the original so highly, while also being accused of jumping aboard the remake bandwagon. As it turns out, though, he gets away with it all. Love's version of The Firm wisely uses the early film as inspiration rather than a firm template. Thus, while the setting remains underground football violence, Love switches the attention to a different character, the youngster breaking into the crowd. This allows the narrative to focus on his becoming accepted by the group, and then his struggle to break free, which settles into a solid three-act story. It's very much aimed at an adult audience, but that doesn't mean that The Firm is a cheap piece of cinema. Far from it, as it happens. Love's film mixed in sharp violence with sparks of humour, and does so to very good effect. In the process, it sidesteps comparisons to the original by simply going off in a different direction, and works well because of it. It's a little more tempered than some of Nick Love's earlier work too, but perhaps as a consequence, it's also his best film to date.


Special Features

  • BEhind the scenes featurette
  • Audio commentary with Director Sam Mendes and Screenwriter Alan Ball
  • Storyboard Presentation with Sam Mendes and Director of Photography Conrad L. Hall
  • 2 Theatrical Trailers

Product Details

  • Actors: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari
  • Directors: Sam Mendes
  • Writers: Alan Ball
  • Producers: Alan Ball, Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks, Stan Wlodkowski
  • Format: Anamorphic, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Greek, Hungarian, English, Turkish
  • Region: Region 2 (Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: DREAMWORKS
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,466 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000558PI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #205,192 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "American Beauty (Region 2)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

311 of 363 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Cairene on April 22, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
I read somewhere that the overwelmingly red look of American Beauty is a symbol for blood and roses. Represented in the film by the flower petals in Lester Burnham's fantasies, and the blood spilt when the sadness that hovers beneath bears its face. The title of American Beauty does not refer to the pretty surfaces that hide the anguish of these people, but the beauty of their souls when dealing with that anguish. Many reviewers have considered the title to be ironic, it isn't. I've heard Kevin Spacey say that this film is about context, because taken out of context the behaviour of these characters seem bizzare and even phsycotic, but out with in the context of their messy lives or indeed anybody's life, it seems natural. If I tell you that Kevin Spacey plays a character who is obsessed with the idea of sleeping with his daughter's best friend, a daughter who constantly anounces her hatred of her parents, a woman so obsessed with appearances that happiness is but a memory to her, a loner who makes his living as a drug dealer with a firm rigid father living in denial about his son and himself, you would guess that there would be no one to like in this film. You would be wrong. This film is magical in the way it lets identify with these characters, care for them and worry about their outcome. Infact the ideas of American Beauty are nothing new. The persuit of happiness through the abanodoning of materialistic possesions and the satisfaction of primal, animal and natural desires was the exact same premise for Fight Club. This could be a middle aged version of that film. The family turmoil closely resembles Ang Lee's The Ice Storm 1998, and like that film, American Beauty ends in tragedy.Read more ›
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45 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Lisa C on March 21, 2000
My initial reaction, "That was weird," has changed to "How thought-provoking." What happens when characters who struggle to live authentically cross paths with those who struggle to do anything but?
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.
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104 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Michael Crane on February 4, 2004
Format: DVD
"American Beauty" is a pure cinematic triumph that is both funny and sad. It's disturbing... and yet, it's extremely provocative and deep. The film is an extraordinary achievement that reveals a tragic and realistic story about a family that is anything but ordinary. It's a film with so many layers that it is almost impossible to dissect them all in one single thought.
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 ›
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32 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Dylan Patrick Smith on August 1, 2000
Format: DVD
The first time I saw this film I was left thinking, "...is this what the Academy considers for a Best Picture? It seems a bit odd for considering a Best Picture nomination." But then as the days went on I couldn't get the images and music from the movie out of my head. I must admit, I am a Kevin Spacey fan ever since "The Usual Suspects" and to see my favorite actor once again I knew it had to be good. It wasn't until the second time I saw the movie that it hit me like a freight train....this is my most favorite movie of all time. Everything is perfect. Even the surreal rose-petal sequences are a visual treat.
The cast was given a razor sharp script to follow and each actor performed perfectly. Thomas Newman's haunting score was very intriguing. It think the ultimate scene that touched me was when Ricky (Wes Bentley) showed the simplicity of a paper bag being blown around by the wind to his girlfriend Jane (Thora Birch). The sheer magnitude of his finding beauty in something like that is why I love this film so much. The movie has a perfect blend of superior acting and cinematography.
A brilliant job to Sam Mendes, the entire cast, and to the Academy for giving this film every Oscar that it deserved.
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