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American Beauty
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Reviews & Ratings for
American Beauty More at IMDbPro »

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

One of the Best films of 1999!!

10/10
Author: DTL
25 September 1999



A definite addition to my Ten Best List for 1999, is AMERICAN BEAUTY which is sure to earn Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning (robbed in the past for her work in BUGSY and THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT), and Alan Ball (most original screenplay to come along in awhile), Oscar nominations. It is the story of what suburban life and the pursuit of the American Dream can do to an American Family. But unlike the critic's darling from a few years ago ICE STORM, which left me freezing, this film is genuinely funny and moving at the same time. The ideas projected by director Sam Mendes literally leap off the screen. Spacey's edgy performance as the ad exec pushed over the brink by the pressures of having to have it all and his passion for "The American Beauty" he missed when he was young enough to enjoy it, offer a visual feast. Annette Benning as the Queen of suburbia, Spacey's wife, is a sort sexy, gorgeous, Martha Stewart gone mad, convinced if she has just one more motivational seminar she will reach nirvana. She is in a word "wonderful." The boy next door is sort of cross between Timothy Hutton in ORDINARY PEOPLE and Benjamin in THE GRADUATE. He deals drugs, observes life around him through a video camera and convinces almost everyone that he is the straight arrow next door. We know immediately, that like everyone else in this movie, he is not as he appears. AMERICAN BEAUTY peals away, layer by layer, this oh so imperfect world of suburbia and those in denial who live there. If you have already seen NOTTING HILL you NEED to see AMERICAN BEAUTY.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

WOW!

10/10
Author: Sean Magan (moebian@yahoo.com) from Worcester, MA
24 September 1999

My fiancee & I saw this movie at a sneak preview showing in her college. The big lab building was filled with mature college students, and there were those who still haven't grown up yet. The lights dimmed and the movie started. It started out with Lester Burnham (played by Kevin Spacey), in a short monologue with an overview of the city they live in. From that moment until the ending credits rolled, I did not blink, I did not budge...except when I laughed...and BOY did I laugh. The movie itself was a bit....shall I say..oh...weird. My fiancee didn't like it too much, cuz it was too weird for her.

I thought it was a very serious movie, but with most of the serious scenes, it contains lots of humor. That's why I thought this movie was very good & original. It's very very serious, but at the same time, it was hilarious and shocking.

Please do NOT take your kids to this movie either (like I saw some parents do in American Pie), it's very BOLD & BRAVE. It has Kevin Spacey nearly commits statutory rape, it has Spacey masturbating (it actually showed it!), and it had Annette Benning having sex with Peter Gallagher..<very rough hard sex>.

In short, I think Spacey & Benning & Chris Cooper (the Neo-Nazi marine) all deserve oscars for this movie! As for best picture, as of right now, there's no movie as bold, daring & very well acted like this movie is. So, American Beauty, you have my votes!

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

"American Beauty" a truly Masterpiece

10/10
Author: juantg2003 from Mexico
1 November 2005

I heard a lot of this movie when it was released on TV, I heard that it won many prizes, etc., so I decided to watch it. Very provoking, isn't it? Yep, even my dad changed the channel many times so I didn't watched some scenes, but it didn't mattered, I watched the most important scenes.

This movie deserves to be in TOP 250, it's a truly masterpiece, I laughed, almost cried too with the ending, and I couldn't stop thinking in many things of the life. For almost a complete hour I could find beauty in everything I watched, even in a bag, like in the movie.

Yes, the movie will let you thinking in many things, for example, the life of any person becomes boring when you have sons, a wife or husband, and a normal life, so, why not to live the life? The interesting of this movie is that you can see how many persons live, their wishes, their intelligence, anything.

This, my friends, is something that must be called a movie, a really Masterpiece that will stay in TOP 250 for a long long time. You know what's a movie? Then you already watched this movie. I really liked this movie, as many other persons.

A TRULY MASTERPIECE:

10/10

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7 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Breathtaking

10/10
Author: Zeke-36 from New York
5 September 1999

This has to be one of the, if not the best films I have ever seen. The performances by Spacey, Bening, Birch, and all the other actors were amazing. They will all be hopefully remembered at awards time. The thing that makes this movie so great is not only the stellar cast, but also the truthful and solid writting. This film was superb, and it will be remembered as one of the best films ever made.

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

It grows and grows

10/10
Author: DrMemory from Ohio, USA
29 February 2008

I didn't think that much of this movie the first time I saw it. But certain images just stuck in my head.

I saw it a second time and I really saw it for the first time, an amazing movie. I just watched it for a third time and it just grows and grows.

The story is so simple and short. Yet it has the enjoyment, the journey of a major novel. I personally hate chick-flicks, am more the action-adventure type. But there isn't a boring moment in what is really casually paced.

The cinematography and the acting is so well done as to become invisible, just captivating. One of the few films where I never thought of any of the actors being "them" playing a part. They are so real.

A beautiful journey into a world so foreign, yet so familiar to our deepest thoughts.

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

No words fit to describe this movie

10/10
Author: FBCorey89 from United States
18 December 2007

This movie is the first one I have written a review for, because it is the one that means the most to me.

No word in the English language can give enough praise to do this film justice. I could write a whole book about the significance and meaning of every artistic shot, of every remarkable performance, and every event and still not capture the essence of this movie.

The truth is that this is the most complete portrayal of human emotion and interaction I have ever seen. It encompasses every aspect of mankind; from jealousy and intolerance, to romance and happiness. Every single aspect of each scene has a meaning and message, and if your mind is open, then this movie will affect you in so many ways.

On a more technical note, this movie is not only superbly written, but executed flawlessly. Kevin Spacey gives the performance of the century, hitting every nuance of his character with grace and style. In a lesser movie, his performance would have been the sole reason to watch. Yet this is not the case. Annette Benning also shines with her portrayal of a troubled housewife that is nothing short of Oscar-worthy. The musical score also stands out as a fantastic attribute of the experience; not overpowering, yet still just as relevant.

I could go on and on about the flawless cinematography and lighting effects and such. But I can sum that all up in a different manner: "There is no bad aspect of this film." Everything works together to perfection to provide the most outstanding movie of this age.

"American Beauty" is quite simply the most significant film of its time. Yet this movie also transcends time to provide an emotional and thought-provoking experience for years to come.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

I loved it

9/10
Author: Echo from Belgium
30 May 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I loved the acting and the under laying messaging. There are so many layers and emotions acted in such a splendid way. The Oscar nomination are well deserved I advice you to see this movie, Its one of those classics that you cant miss.

I could really relay to Lester Burnham and his questions to what's important in life.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A glorification of the destruction of the American family.

4/10
Author: mark.waltz from United States
14 January 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hollywood used to give Oscars to films of consequence, to films which ambitiously told stories of real people rising above strife and issues which touched the core of the world. But that was during the golden age of movie making when Andy Hardy's mother would smile simply because he asked for another piece of pie and Fred Astaire would gallantly guide Ginger Rogers around the dance floor. When movies about serious issues such as alcoholism, mental illness and anti-Semitism came in, one movie mogul apparently described it with the statement about realism, "So is diarrhea, but I don't want to see it on screen."

Yes, we can see through our daily lives that "focus on the family" is an overstated attempt by certain groups to diminish the realism that families do fail, and not with the help of the groups they don't see eye to eye with. In theatrical drama, this evidence goes back to some of the classics of the American theater, particularly plays by Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee, and those plays hold up strongly today because the elements of why those families were failing were better detailed. Even the black comedy "The War of the Roses" showed us the motivations behind the hatred, but all "American Beauty" does is show us that men are sex starved pigs, that women are bitches, that teenagers are messed up because of their sex starved fathers and bitchy mothers and that there's no hope for the future generation.

Certainly, this film is excellent as far as the acting is concerned, yet the characters are all extremely creepy and unlikable. Nobody plays creepy weirdos better than Kevin Spacey, and in spite of being that creepy weirdo, his character is actually somewhat understandable, albeit in a pathetic, you can't help but feel sorry for him sort of way. His lust for his nasty daughter's best friend is at first "ikky" to watch as is his obsession with getting out of the job that he hates with a high paid exit benefit package. Annette Bening is certainly great at playing neurotic bitches, and here she does so quite brilliantly with passive/aggressive gusto. She's quite sweet and somewhat phony with the gay couple next door, yet she turns on her husband with the venom of a cobra towards a mongoose. The sex scene she has with rival real estate agent Peter Gallagher is filmed with a lustful anger, as if what Gallagher is doing to her she is psychologically doing to her husband.

Thora Birch expresses typical teenaged bitterness and insecurities with the violent thud of an anvil being dropped from a skyscraper. She not only hates her parents, but is totally embarrassed by having them around, especially after a basketball game for which she is a cheerleader. Birch's character certainly doesn't have the personality of a cheerleader; In fact, on the court, she can't even force herself to crack a smile and just goes through the routine as if she was being forced at gunpoint to do what most teenaged girls would give their I-Phone (well, maybe not...) to do.

Mena Suvari, as her cheerleader pal, is probably the most complex character here, the typically self-centered supposedly perfect girl who actually is more insecure than she lets on. In one disturbing fight scene between Birch and Suvari, her vulnerability really explodes when Birch refers to her as ordinary. How many times has somebody longed to tell off the cheerleader type to try and break their spirit, and when it happens here, it really turns out to be sad. Wes Bentley is the new kid next door, the son of an ex-Marine (a truly scary Chris Cooper), forced by his dad to take a drug test every six months. But unbeknownst to the homophobic Cooper, Bentley has a secret life of his own, a hidden supply of drugs and an obsession with filming everyone around him without their knowledge.

Cooper's angry Marine is instantly incensed to find out that the neighbors two doors down is a male gay couple, but this homophobia hides something truly disturbing. Not only is there his obsession with Nazi memorabilia but his own underlying sexuality and abuse of his fragile wife (played with quiet strength by the always excellent Allison Janney). The lives of these characters intertwine to the point of an exploding volcano, a sinking ship without lifeboats, and really, the best escape from this mess turns out to be Spacey's fate. At two hours, this is a depressing and exhausting view of the messed up lives of humans too stupid to realize that they are responsible in most part for their inner destruction. After this was over, I felt as if I had been shot with a taser gun all over my body and needed extensive therapy just to recover from watching these people whom I hope never to know become more and more pathetic.

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7 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Kevin Spacey and Sam Mendez at their Best

10/10
Author: SeanPennModernPowerhouse from United Kingdom
26 October 2004

I think that it's safe to say that American Beauty and M. Night Shyamalan's supernatural-thriller The Sixth Sense were definity the sleeper hits of 1999.

Here Kevin Spacey shows the amazing form that he's been showing for the last ten years, in films like The Life of David Gale, K-PAX, Pay it Forward, L.A. Conifedencial and Swimming With Sharks. It's also funny that this is called an American Classic when the director, Sam Mendez (Road to Perdition), is in fact English.

Spacey stars as Lester Burnham, a loser who hates his wife (Annette Benning- The Grifters, Mars Attacks) and whose daughter (Thora Birch- Patroit Games, Ghost World) hates him, whose life changes when he black mails his boss, falls for his daughters best friend (Mena Suvari- Atomic Train, American Pie 1 & 2, The Musketeer) and is introduced to the world of drugs by his neighbour (Wes Bentley).

I know wrote in a previous review that I see "To End All Wars as better film-making triumph" and I still stand by that, but you just can't help but to be drawn in to this wonderful movie by the amazing Academy Award winning combination of Alan Ball's screenplay, Mendez's direction and Spacey performance.

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8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Amazing, Extraordinary, Beautiful.

10/10
Author: dareelEARTHCHILD from United Kingdom
4 March 2008

I found out about this film completely by accident but am so glad I did. I had seen the trailer and was not that convinced, what made me want to watch the film was the amazing soundtrack performed mostly by Thomas Newman.

I was completely hooked from the beginning and was not bored for a second. American Beauty really is a masterpiece and probably one of the best films ever to have been made. The film deserves a lot more credit for the storyline and was directed in an amazing way. Everything is perfectly timed and nothing drags along, it all fits together in a graceful yet unique way. The characters are all part of the jigsaw that the story unravels throughout the film to an exciting but shocking consequence.

10 out of 10.

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