American Beauty Reviews

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Top Critic
Richard Schickel
TIME Magazine
January 28, 2014
Boldly challenging our sympathies, [Lester] somehow wins them because, to borrow a phrase, he's a man in full.
Top Critic
January 28, 2014
The hairpin turns from farce to melodrama, from satire to bathos, are fresh and deftly navigated, but almost every one of the underlying attitudes is smug and easy.
Top Critic
Scott Tobias
AV Club
January 28, 2014
Mendes and screenwriter Alan Ball, both making their feature debuts, resort to a few heavy-handed tactics to get their points across, but their sheer audacity is so exhilarating it hardly matters.
Leah Rozen
People Magazine
January 28, 2014
Beauty is never less than fascinating and always visually stunning.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Lorien Haynes
Radio Times
January 28, 2014
British theatre director Sam Mendes made an astonishing film debut with this sublime black comedy about midlife crises.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Serena Donadoni
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
January 28, 2014
In their scathing portrayal of middle-class anxiety, screenwriter Alan Ball and director Sam Mendes create an average Joe determined to unearth the carefully buried truths of his life.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5

Total Film
February 24, 2013
American Beauty is a profoundly satisfying piece of cinema which works its way inside you, grabs hold of your heart and simply refuses to let go.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Top Critic
David Denby
New Yorker
February 24, 2013
This amazing and impassioned fantasia about American loneliness begins as satire and ends with a vision of the sublime.
Blake Howard
2UE That Movie Show
May 7, 2012
American Beauty was a deserving best picture and Lester's rich existential journey and social commentary of modern America peels away the inauthentic and superficial to reveal the epic allure in a bleak suburbia.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
Tim Brayton
Antagony & Ecstasy
March 23, 2011
Cripplingly broad, with network-sitcom beats dressed in R-rated threads... [endorses] a particularly adolescent male point of view.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/10
Nell Minow
Common Sense Media
September 14, 2010
Powerful acting, great story, but far too mature for kids.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
June 7, 2010
The flaws that exist in American Beauty are effortlessly overcome by a cast that blossoms. Spacey in particular exhibits a rare wit and gravitas with Lester's weary frowns and cutting smirks, proving his mettle in this career peak performance.
Full Review | Original Score: 92/100
Ed Gonzalez
Slant Magazine
June 5, 2008
It's daring in that it sympathizes with a protagonist who's a pederast though its portrait of an American family on the brink of collapse is essentially a cartoon
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4

Film4
February 20, 2008
One of the most startling, brilliant pictures to come out of a major studio in many years.
Rob Gonsalves
eFilmCritic.com
July 23, 2007
An elusive and allusive work of art that won't be pinned down easily.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Joe Lozito
Big Picture Big Sound
July 14, 2007
Recently, Happiness and Election have taken pot shots at suburban morals and ethics, but none has hit so close to the bone and so on-target as American Beauty.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Walter Chaw
Film Freak Central
May 23, 2007
It's like Norman Bates getting good advice from Mother.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Andrew Sarris
New York Observer
April 27, 2007
As the latest mainstream movie symptom of our premillennial malaise, American Beauty is so brilliantly acted, written, directed and visualized that for all its despondency and despair, it is a lot of fun.
Wesley Lovell
Cinema Sight
January 4, 2007
An incisive if over-the-top take on familial dysfunction.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Phil Villarreal
Arizona Daily Star
August 25, 2006
Above all, "American Beauty" is about finding peace and a sense of wonder in the least likely of places, such as your inner torment or, failing that, perhaps a floating plastic bag.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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