American Beauty

1999, Drama/Comedy, 2h 2m

190 Reviews 250,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Flawlessly cast and brimming with dark, acid wit, American Beauty is a smart, provocative high point of late '90s mainstream Hollywood film. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is a gainfully employed suburban husband and father. Fed up with his boring, stagnant existence, he quits his job and decides to reinvent himself as a pot-smoking, responsibility-shirking teenager. What follows is at once cynical, hysterical, and, eventually, tragically uplifting.

Cast & Crew

Kevin Spacey
Lester Burnham
Annette Bening
Carolyn Burnham
Thora Birch
Jane Burnham
Wes Bentley
Ricky Fitts
Mena Suvari
Angela Hayes
Allison Janney
Barbara Fitts
Scott Bakula
Jim Olmeyer
Sam Robards
Jim Berkley
Chris Cooper
Colonel Fitts
Ara Celi
Sale House Woman No. 1
John Cho
Sale House Man No. 1
Fort Atkinson
Sale House Man No. 2
Sue Casey
Sale House Woman No. 2
Kent Faulcon
Sale House Man No. 3
Brenda Wehle
Sale House Woman No. 4
Lisa Cloud
Sale House Woman No. 5
Alison Faulk
Spartanette No. 1
Krista Goodsitt
Spartanette No. 2
Dan Jinks
Producer
Steven Spielberg
Executive Producer
Thomas Newman
Original Music
Pete Townshend
Original Music
Conrad L. Hall
Cinematographer
Tariq Anwar
Film Editor
David Lazan
Art Direction
Naomi Shohan
Production Designer
Jan K. Bergstrom
Set Decoration
Julie Weiss
Costume Designer
Show all Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for American Beauty

Audience Reviews for American Beauty

  • Apr 27, 2017
    This was a pretty good movie after I actually got the whole way through it. It takes apart suburbia in a way that most films don't, actually defining deep and complex characters. Most of the cast is pretty spot on, there is a certain subtle humor to the film that can be appreciated.
    Jarrin R Super Reviewer
  • Feb 27, 2016
    Another well deserved Oscar winning performance from the incompatible Kevin Spacey. This movie is worth watching solely for how great and hilarious the first hour is and how dramatic and tense the second hour is.
    Kameron W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 08, 2016
    American Beauty is a film that appears complex but in reality is quite simple: It's a film that unabashedly tears apart the delusion of the american dream and the typical middle-class lifestyle. A genius film and a perfect closing-out for the '90s. The brilliant part about American Beauty which proves that it's story is strong is that it does the classic progression method of multiple storylines diverging at the beginning before weaving back into one at the very end of the film. It's something that has been done many times over, but is completely brilliant to watch when written correctly, and it definitely is here. Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening are the nucleus for most of the film, playing Lester and Carolyn Burnham, a unhappily married couple whose marriage has grown completely 100% stagnant and who are in desperate need of contact but refuse for the most part to give it to each other due to their overwhelming pent-up anger at one another which is the driving force of the film in many ways. Their daughter Jane (Thora Birch) is a sarcastic and melancholic high school student who is friends with the vain and self-important Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari) who later becomes the object of Lester's desire. Jane meanwhile grows to befriend her next door neighbour and classmate Ricky Fitts, an equally different teenager who films everything he sees while dealing with an overbearing ex-marine father who is the very embodiment of conservative insecurity, and all these intersect at the grand finale where a preventable tragedy strikes at a bittersweet moment. American Beauty is such a relatable film because many people have at least been close to relating with one, if not two of it's protagonists, whether it's the introversion of Jane, the cynical, yet desperate Lester, or any of the others who all have their own serious problems in the storyline. However, Kevin Spacey's portrayal of Lester is the driving point of the film, as everything ends up revolving around the character's fate. Spacey's portrayal of Lester paints the character as a fiercely smart person who decides to take action and bring back some freedom into his life after he has lived a torturously banal existence. It's a film that can come off as depressing, but give it the chance and you'll see that it's a true work of art, and again, a perfect closing film for one of the most manic decades of modern history. Plus, you'll discover several hilariously stuck-up and utterly conservative euphemisms for not being the complete master of one's domain.
    Kal X. A Super Reviewer
  • Feb 25, 2015
    The only way you'll find out if American Beauty is for you is by watching it. It's hard to imagine it not being though, American Beauty is a prime example of how brutal and brilliant seemingly mundane films can be.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer

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