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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.



365 ( 39)
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?


Jim and Jim were deliberately depicted as the most normal, happy-and boring-couple in the film. Alan Ball's inspiration for the characters came from a thought he had after seeing a "bland, boring, heterosexual couple" who wore matching clothes: "I can't wait for the time when a gay couple can be just as boring." Ball also included aspects of a gay couple he knew who had the same forename. See more »


Lester applies for a job at a fast food restaurant and requests a position with the least amount of responsibility. No employer would hire someone who makes this request. 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 »


References Dodes'ka-den (1970) See more »


Written by Rick Arbuckle
Performed by Zen Dadio
Courtesy of Boho Records
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User Reviews

Far and away the best film of the year
14 December 1999 | by See all my reviews

What can I say, except that this film really knocked me on my keaster. I went in to the theater not knowing what to expect, but was pretty sure it would be worth the ticket price. Boy was I happy when I left. Not only was it worth the ticket, I paid to see this film two more times. This film is virtually perfect. The acting is superb, the story is magnificent, the narrative is brilliant, and the structure of the film is truly groundbreaking (absolutely loved the last 20 minutes). What really surprised me about this film was how well the cinematography was done. In a small, character driven film such as this, it is very unusual to have such great cinematography. With this film, there is something interesting going on in every scene, not many films you can say that about. In a year where first time directors have made some of the best films, Three Kings, Being John Malkovich, etc... Sam Mendes seems to have out-done them all. Though I have yet to see The Green Mile or Magnolia, I find it hard to believe that either film will out-shine American Beauty. This film should easily win a substantial amount of the Oscars this year. What's up with all the cirtics awards snubbing it so far?

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