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American Beauty (1999)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  1 October 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 763,045 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 2,692 user | 271 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

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



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Top Rated Movies #62 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 101 wins & 96 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


Lester and Carolyn Burnham are, on the outside, a perfect husband and wife in a perfect house in a perfect neighborhood. But inside, Lester is slipping deeper and deeper into a hopeless depression. He finally snaps when he becomes infatuated with one of his daughter's friends. Meanwhile, his daughter Jane is developing a happy friendship with a shy boy-next-door named Ricky, who lives with an abusive father. Written by Jessie Skinner <eietherbinge@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Drama | Romance

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:

$861,531 (USA) (17 September 1999)


AUD 11,029,726 (Australia) (15 December 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director Sam Mendes personally filmed the pivotal POV shot of Ricky's camera when he zooms past the figure of Angela to "look closer" at Jane's smiling reflection in the mirror. See more »


Carolyn is wearing her gardening gloves in the garage as she lectures Lester about smoking and "setting a good example for our daughter." When she warns him that "you will not get away with this," she is not wearing them. 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 »


Spoofed in Sorority Boys (2002) See more »


Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Performed by Elliott Smith
Elliott Smith appears courtesy of DreamWorks Records
See more »

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User Reviews

One of my faves of the year...simply great.
5 November 1999 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

This movie was a joy to watch. I didn't know what to expect when I came into it. I had heard the buzz of the acting and the story, etc...but we've all heard that before and had been disappointed, but not so with this one.

Kevin Spacey plays this part to a "T". He is strong when it requires and meek when it is needed. His emotional rollercoaster ride is a trip to partake in. Annette Bening is marvelous as well. I think they both should be nominated.

The support cast is also spectacular. Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, and Mena Suvari all give great performances as the troubled "Teenagers" in the film. Of particular mention is Wes Bentley's performance, worthy of a supporting nomination as well.

This is a dramatic and funny tale of a man and his life in a state of turmoil and transition. When he happens to see a beautiful friend of his daughter's at a cheerleading exhibition, he is completely infatuated with her beauty. Using this as his inspiration, he attempts to change all aspects of his life. He confronts his marriage, his job, his ego, and his libido.

The music in this film is also very well chosen. There are moments when the music fits so perfectly with the scene that they meld together as one to present a perfect emotion.

The plot can get rather involved, but you will follow it endlessly to see where you go. I was simply involved, hook, line and sinker.

See this movie more than once, and skip some of the other movies out now that are dare I say, trash.

This should be on the top of many critic's lists this year and it is certainly on top of mine.

My Rating (1 - 10): 10

200 of 262 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I changed my mind about this movie. I actually like it. christopher-townsend44
Films like this? blytheoakman
Why Colonel Fitts kissed Lester? chris610
Tough for Non-Americans to relate to? LorcaGonzalez
Great film but completely sexist. Here's why. MelancholyPonyAndTheCircusBoy
How do you personally interpret the title American Beauty? MelancholyPonyAndTheCircusBoy
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