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American Beauty

  R Closed Captioning

Sam Mendes

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Plot Summary

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.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews

TOMATOMETER

88%
  • Reviews Counted: 167
  • Fresh: 147
  • Rotten: 20
  • Average Rating: 8.1/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: The kind of artful defiance that Hollywood is usually too timid to deliver: a jolting comedy that makes you laugh till it hurts. – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone, Jan 28, 2014

Fresh: Boldly challenging our sympathies, [Lester] somehow wins them because, to borrow a phrase, he's a man in full. – Richard Schickel, TIME Magazine, Jan 28, 2014

Fresh: This amazing and impassioned fantasia about American loneliness begins as satire and ends with a vision of the sublime. – David Denby, New Yorker, Feb 24, 2013

Fresh: A great, tremendously entertaining experience. I only wish there were more films this satisfying. – Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle, Jul 7, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Cinematic Perfection - A Certain Classic

Whereas some movies will glide by as "good" until they might sometime (decades later) slip into the realm of a "classic," American Beauty is one of those rare films whose place among the classics has been guaranteed since its appearance. In this film, a metaphorical magnifying glass is placed over American society and in particular the lives of people living in a typical middle class, suburban, 2.5 child household. Thus from this comes the film's tag line: "Look Closer". Sam Mendes, in his silver screen debut, directs this beautiful piece of art: a perfect blend of an intelligent screenplay, brilliant acting, and a powerful story. At the 1999 Academy Awards, American Beauty was nominated for (among others awards) "the big five" (Picture, Director, Screenplay (original, in this case), Leading Actor, and Leading Actor) and won in all but the lattermost category. The acting performances in this film are memorable, well directed, and are certain to endure among the greats. Kevin Spacey brings charm and vitality to a lifeless 40-something, Lester Burnham, in a transformation that makes audiences envy his determination. Annette Bening delivers a great synthesis of comedic timing and passion while playing the role of Lester's wife Carolyn, a career-driven and perfection-obsessed real estate agent. Director Sam Mendes also brings great performances from the rest of the cast as well. The film also has great aesthetic value as well, bringing magnificent cinematography and well utilizing colors symbolically. Furthermore, the movies occasional dream sequences are visually stunning and get across every point that the script intends. American Beauty tops every challenge thrown at it and shines magificently as an all-around beautiful and passionate film. It is sure to endure in the annals of great cinema and is certainly worth every accolade it receives as well as your purchase.

one heck of a catharsis

great, great movie. brought me to tears the first time i watched it, not because of its tragic elements, but because of the way it so accurately relates to Beauty. AMERICAN BEAUTY is the beauty of KNOWING.

there is so much.... beauty in this movie.....i feel like i can't take it!

there were simply no flaws in this movie. the shots were outstanding, the acting was phenomenal, the story was unique, and the message was beautiful. this is definatly one of my favorite movies and one of the best movies ever made.

American Beauty
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  • $14.99
  • Genre: Drama
  • Released: 1999

Customer Ratings

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