8.3/10
1,042,888
2,891 user 198 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
340 ( 24)
Top Rated Movies #76 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 106 wins & 101 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
Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Robin Williams, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck
Memento (2000)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A man with short-term memory loss attempts to track down his wife's murderer.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
Braveheart (1995)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

When his secret bride is executed for assaulting an English soldier who tried to rape her, William Wallace begins a revolt against King Edward I of England.

Director: Mel Gibson
Stars: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A former neo-nazi skinhead tries to prevent his younger brother from going down the same wrong path that he did.

Director: Tony Kaye
Stars: Edward Norton, Edward Furlong, Beverly D'Angelo
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

After John Nash, a brilliant but asocial mathematician, accepts secret work in cryptography, his life takes a turn for the nightmarish.

Director: Ron Howard
Stars: Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

When a simple jewelry heist goes horribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen
Drama | Romance | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

When their relationship turns sour, a couple undergoes a medical procedure to have each other erased from their memories.

Director: Michel Gondry
Stars: Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Tom Wilkinson
Crime | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  

A sole survivor tells of the twisty events leading up to a horrific gun battle on a boat, which began when five criminals met at a seemingly random police lineup.

Director: Bryan Singer
Stars: Kevin Spacey, Gabriel Byrne, Chazz Palminteri
Se7en (1995)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.6/10 X  

Two detectives, a rookie and a veteran, hunt a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins as his motives.

Director: David Fincher
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.7/10 X  

A criminal pleads insanity and is admitted to a mental institution, where he rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients.

Director: Milos Forman
Stars: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Will Sampson
Fight Club (1999)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

An insomniac office worker and a devil-may-care soapmaker form an underground fight club that evolves into something much, much more.

Director: David Fincher
Stars: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Meat Loaf
Forrest Gump (1994)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.8/10 X  

The presidencies of Kennedy and Johnson, the events of Vietnam, Watergate and other historical events unfold through the perspective of an Alabama man with an IQ of 75, whose only desire is to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart.

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Stars: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise
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

For the 72nd Academy Awards, in which the picture and Kevin Spacey were nominated, Spacey reprised Lester Burnham In a sketch with host Billy Crystal in which Lester's opening shower scene is spoofed as the shower scene from Psycho (1960) See more »

Goofs

Ricky says that his father has only one Nazi item. One of the items on the wall is a German luger, so this is not entirely true. 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

Referenced in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.13 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Bali Ha'i
Written by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers
Performed by Peggy Lee
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.


369 of 469 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 2,891 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
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



Recently Viewed