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American Beauty (1999)

R  |   |  Drama  |  1 October 1999 (USA)
8.4
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 700,749 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 2,689 user | 262 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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Title: American Beauty (1999)

American Beauty (1999) on IMDb 8.4/10

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Top 250 #61 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 109 wins & 81 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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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Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

1 October 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Belleza americana  »

Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£425,558 (UK) (28 January 2000)

Gross:

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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Since Thora Birch was barely 17 at the time she made the film, and thus classified as a minor in the United States, her parents had to approve her brief topless scene in the movie and they and child labor representatives were on the set for the shooting of it. See more »

Goofs

When Carolyn (with squeegee) is outside cleaning the sliding glass patio doors opening out on to the pool for the open house a sheer curtain panel is visible inside, when she throws open the front doors to the open house and welcomes prospective buyers we see in the background the sheers are flanked by heavy plaid curtains drawn open to either side. After she fails to sell the house and closes up the patio door at the end of the (same) day the curtains and sheers have disappeared and she draws textured vertical blinds closed across the same glass doors. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

References Patriot Games (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

All Along The Watchtower
Written and Performed by Bob Dylan
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Beautiful...
29 November 2003 | by See all my reviews

Probably the best film of 1999. This dark comedy drama marks two fantastic feature film debuts with Alan Ball as writer and Sam Mendes as director (both winning oscars for their sterling efforts).

Kevin Spacey plays Lester Burnham, a man on the brink of a mid-life crisis, who suddenly becomes obsessed with one of his teenage daughters friends played by Mena Suvari. His daughter (Thora Birch) is, as Lester tells us; "a typical teenager. Angry, insecure, confused...". And his wife Caroline (Annette Bening) has an obsession of her own, her public appearance.

Life starts off on a downer for the Burnhams and their new neighbours the Fitts despite their lives looking good from the outside.

As life begins to improve (with most of the main characters finding what they think is love or new relationships) it soon all comes crashing down in the climactic final day.

The writing is nothing short of brilliant and made even more amazing by knowing that it comes from a first time feature film screen writer Alan Ball (who had had years of prior experience writing TV sitcoms - not that you'd be able to guess from the tone of this film).

The directing is on a par with the writing and Sam Mendes manages to get some brilliant performances from the great cast, who are all faultless. No doubt Mendes' theatre directing past played a huge part in directing the actors so well.

Another person worthy of a mention is the late director of photography Conrad L. Hall, another one of the five oscar recipients for this film.

All the elements in this film gel perfectly together to make one superb masterpiece. Not one person, either cast or crew, steals this film or does anymore than anyone else to make this film what it is. Truly an ensemble effort. 10/10.


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Message Boards

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Why Colonel Fitts kissed Lester? chris610
Tough for Non-Americans to relate to? LorcaGonzalez
Why was Jane a cheerleader? dcavalli
I liked this on first viewing but now it seems pretty stale and hollow liching1
Who else wanted to punch Annette Bening's character in the face? trcrock
Other movies that debunk American Suburbia hintsnstuff
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