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American Beauty (1999)

R | | Drama | 1 October 1999 (USA)
3:01 | Trailer

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A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.



326 ( 60)
Top Rated Movies #64 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 104 wins & 99 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sale House Woman #1
Sale House Man #1
Fort Atkinson ...
Sale House Man #2
Sue Casey ...
Sale House Woman #2


After his death sometime in his forty-third year, suburbanite Lester Burnham tells of the last few weeks of his life, during which he had no idea of his imminent passing. He is a husband to real estate agent Carolyn Burnham and father to high school student Janie Burnham. Although Lester and Carolyn once loved each other, they now merely tolerate each other. Typical wallflower Janie too hates both her parents, the three who suffer individually in silence in their home life. Janie tries to steer clear of both her parents. Carolyn, relatively new to the real estate business, wants to create the persona of success to further her career, she aspiring to the professional life of Buddy Kane, the king of the real estate business in their neighborhood. Lester merely walks mindlessly through life, including at his job in advertising. His company is downsizing, and he, like all the other employees, has to justify his position to the newly hired efficiency expert to keep his job. Things change ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality, language, violence and drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

1 October 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Belleza americana  »


Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$861,531, 19 September 1999, Limited Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Director Sam Mendes designed the two girls' look to change over the course of the film, with Thora Birch gradually using less makeup and Mena Suvari gradually using more, to emphasize his view of their shifting perceptions of themselves. See more »


When Buddy King is having lunch with Carolyn, his hair is mostly gray. But in the subsequent spread-eagle sex scene, there's no gray. See more »


[first lines]
Jane Burnham: I need a father who's a role model, not some horny geek-boy who's gonna spray his shorts whenever I bring a girlfriend home from school. What a lame-o. Someone really should just put him out of his misery.
Ricky Fitts: Want me to kill him for you?
Jane Burnham: Yeah. Would you?
See more »

Crazy Credits

thanks to all at the Donmar Warehouse in London and Dr. Bill and Alice See more »


Referenced in Amélie (2001) See more »


Open The Door
Written and Performed by Betty Carter
Courtesy of Blue Note Records, A Division of Capitol Records, Inc.
Uncer license from EMI-Capitol Music Special Markets
See more »

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User Reviews

a very well done film that continues to amaze me...
7 July 2001 | by See all my reviews

When I first saw this movie in theaters, I found it to be very funny. When I rented it at home, I found it to be very sad and complex. Looking at it now, I realize that it is surely one of the most extraordinary films ever to come out of Hollywood. To some it may look trite or cliched, or maybe too un-ordinary to be worthy of its praise, but the overall impact of this film is extremely powerful. After you've seen it, you know you've seen something.

A few notable elements stand out. The direction is superb; this is visually a superior film, for the director understands the subtle changes in tone. The writing is equally compelling; the story effortlessly interweaves multiple stories to create one amazing movie. The haunting music is also notable. Lastly is the acting. Kevin Spacey has done excellent films before, and he can add this one to the list. He may be a little to witty to suggest the overshadowed character he portrays, but he simply disappears into the role. Annette Bening is also fine; a less strong role, but she is magnificent none the less. As the teenagers, Thora Birch is able to mesmerize us with one intense look; her "typical teenager" role is fleshed out completely. I enjoyed Mena Suvari's character equally. It seemed that she did not receive as much acclaim, but her performance evokes both innocence and experience, and her scenes toward the end give her a depth unlike any other character. And Wes Bentley, as the video-taping boy next door, is easily the most original character. At first he seems a little tense, but, like Spacey, he sinks into the role. His "purpose" in the film, unlike anyone else's, is a mystery, thus making him the most enigmatic person.

Most films are able to make a lasting impression on its audience, but never has a movie been known to "move" its viewers as much as this movie. It truly says something about life, no matter how predictable or tacky it appears, this film disturbingly shows us how to appreciate our individual lives, so therefore, when they are over, we each have something to remember.

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