8.3/10
1,055,634
2,918 user 199 critic

American Beauty (1999)

R | | Drama | 1 October 1999 (USA)
Trailer
3:01 | Trailer
A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.

Director:

Sam Mendes

Writer:

Alan Ball
Popularity
254 ( 36)
Top Rated Movies #77 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 106 wins & 102 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kevin Spacey ... Lester Burnham
Annette Bening ... Carolyn Burnham
Thora Birch ... Jane Burnham
Wes Bentley ... Ricky Fitts
Mena Suvari ... Angela Hayes
Peter Gallagher ... Buddy Kane
Allison Janney ... Barbara Fitts
Chris Cooper ... Colonel Fitts
Scott Bakula ... Jim Olmeyer
Sam Robards ... Jim Berkley
Barry Del Sherman ... Brad
Ara Celi ... Sale House Woman #1
John Cho ... Sale House Man #1
Fort Atkinson Fort Atkinson ... Sale House Man #2
Sue Casey Sue Casey ... Sale House Woman #2
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

... look closer

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Both Oscar winners Kevin Spacey and Chris Cooper got their film career starts playing New York subway criminals. Spacey played an untitled mugger in Heartburn (1986) while Cooper played a pyromaniac in Money Train (1995). Spacey and Cooper previously co-starred in A Time to Kill (1996). See more »

Goofs

Wooden arm chair in front of the window at Lester's end of the dining room table which appears in every other scene in the movie has disappeared so Jane can walk to that window unimpeded to look out and observe Ricky, the new neighbor boy she had just flipped off for videotaping her getting out of Angela's car and walking up to her front door. 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 »


Soundtracks

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

User Reviews

 
Beautiful...
29 November 2003 | by Philip_PughSee 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.


372 of 475 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 2,918 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 October 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

American Beauty See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$861,531, 19 September 1999

Gross USA:

$130,096,601

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$356,296,601
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS | Dolby

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page



Recently Viewed