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American Beauty (1999)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  1 October 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 750,610 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 2,690 user | 268 critic | 33 from

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



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Top 250 Movies #63 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 115 wins & 82 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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


... look closer


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?


The helicopter shot at the beginning of the movie was originally for a flying sequence where Lester floats over the houses and then down onto his bed. See more »


The dining room table is set with 6 crystal/glass candle holders with white candles when Jane crosses the room to the window to see if Ricky Fitts is still watching her but during both dinner scenes/sequences with the family at the table we see only 4 holders when the candles are lit. 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 The Break-Up Artist (2009) See more »


All Right Now
Written by Andy Fraser and Paul Rodgers
Performed by Free
Courtesy of A&M Records/Island Records Ltd.
Under license from Universal Music Special Markets
See more »

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User Reviews

An Oscar well deserved.
29 May 2000 | by (Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

This film is one of a kind. After seeing this film last week, I was left with a hole in the pit of my stomach. It left many questions in my mind, and most of them cannot be answered. In my view, a film that makes me think after I watch it is second-to-none, and this film certainly delivers in that aspect.

I was amazed with the vivid imagery in this movie, as well as with the symbolism. However, what makes this film the best of 1999 is the acting. Kevin Spacey shines as Lester Burnham, and Annette Bening (Carolyn Burnham) isn't far behind. Supporting cast members such as Wes Bentley (Ricky Fitts), Thora Birch (Jane Burnham), Mena Suvari (Angela Hayes), and Chris Cooper (Col. Frank Fitts) only add to the drama of this film. I think the most special aspect of this film is how all of the characters intertwine in a way that is believable, yet fantastic at the same time. I congratulate Sam Mendes for his direction of this film, as well as Alan Ball for writing it. I don't think it could have been any better.

Rated R in the U.S. for strong sexuality, language, drug content, and violence, the film obviously deserves its rating. However, none of the causes for the R rating are overbearing, and all of them add to the plot-line of this film. While I don't think that this is a film for children, I would suggest that adults should view it with an open mind. I believe that the traits which many of the characters in this film have are found in many people around the world. Perhaps that is why this film hits close to home for so many viewers.

While billed by some as a "comedy-drama", I don't see anything about this film as funny. Sure, there are some comedic moments, but by the end, those moments were all but forgotten when faced with the grim reality of the conclusion of the events portrayed in this film.

If you want to watch a light-hearted film with some elements of comedy and some elements of drama, don't see American Beauty. But if you enjoy films that make you think, and are entertained by an excellent cast, excellent directing, and an excellent screenplay, this film should be at the top of your list.

My Rating: 10/10

394 of 474 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
were the root beer bottles an intended reference to lolita 1962 Bowen_Ng
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