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American Beauty (Sapphire Series) [Blu-ray] (1999)

Kevin Spacey , Annette Bening , Sam Mendes  |  R |  Blu-ray
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,364 customer reviews)

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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: AC-3, Blu-ray, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Dreamworks Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 21, 2010
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,364 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003VJTGLQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #126,339 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "American Beauty (Sapphire Series) [Blu-ray]" on IMDb

Special Features

- Commentary with Director Sam Mendes and Screenwriter Alan Ball
- American Beauty Look Closer…
- Storyboard Presentation with Sam Mendes and Director of Photography Conrad L. Hall
- 2 Theatrical Trailers

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Noted theater director Sam Mendes, who was responsible for the acclaimed 1998 revival of Cabaret and Nicole Kidman's turn in The Blue Room, made his motion picture debut with this film about the dark side of an American family, and about the nature and price of beauty in a culture obsessed with outward appearances. Kevin Spacey plays Lester Burnham, a man in his mid-40s going through an intense midlife crisis; he's grown cynical and is convinced that he has no reason to go on. Lester's relationship with his wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) is not a warm one; while on the surface Carolyn strives to present the image that she's in full control of her life, inside she feels empty and desperate. Their teenage daughter Jane (Thora Birch) is constantly depressed, lacking in self-esteem, and convinced that she's unattractive. Her problems aren't helped by her best friend Angela (Mena Suvari), an aspiring model who is quite beautiful and believes that that alone makes her a worthwhile person. Jane isn't the only one who has noticed that Angela is attractive: Lester has fallen into uncontrollable lust for her, and she becomes part of his drastic plan to change his body and change his life. Meanwhile, next door, 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 part-time drug dealer who is obsessed with beauty, wherever and whatever it may be. American Beauty was also the screen debut for screenwriter Alan Ball.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
297 of 345 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BLOOD AND ROSES 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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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking March 21, 2000
By Lisa C
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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100 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...And in a way, I am dead already." 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.
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77 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oscar finally gets it right... April 4, 2000
Format:DVD
There's something special about "American Beauty" that's hard to pinpoint. I don't think I've ever seen a film with such a great ensemble of actors - everyone is perfectly cast, from Kevin Spacey's eerily lovable Lester, to Annette Bening's loopy real-estate broker Carolyn, to Thora Birch's hauntingly disenchanted Jane. And the Fitts family...whew. Don't even want to go there.
It's one of many films lately dealing with the disparity between appearances and their underlying realities. Lester's abrupt break with his superficial world is refreshing, and the chaotic circumstances that evolve from it are both provocative and entertaining. I think that, along with "Fight Club," "American Beauty" is the best of them all. The beautiful cinematography, outstanding percussion-centered score, precise and evocative *original* screenplay, and above all first-rate acting make this movie stand above all the others. Thinking about the fact that this is Sam Mendes' first film, and Alan Ball's first screenplay, gives me hope for the future of film in America. Not every movie has to leave you nauseous.
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