American Beauty Reviews
American Beauty offers a strange yet smart and complex story, that holds affecting performances, great score and direction, and a plot that's funny and tragic.
The performances were great overall, but I found Chris Cooper to be the standout in terms of realism, and Kevin Spacey to be the standout when it came to what character I had the most fun watching. I realize how confusing that probably sounds, and I don't want to discredit the rest of the cast's excellent work (I shouldn't forget to mention Annette Bening and Wes Bentley), but I'll just briefly explain that while I thought Chris Cooper's character felt like a very real person, Kevin Spacey had such a charisma that every line of dialogue had me smiling.
Visually, the film looks very much like every other late 90s dark comedy. The cinematography was good, but not especially unique. However, the famous rose pedal scenes and the use of frames within frames were incredibly eye-catching, and managed to still have substance with their style.
I appreciated the stylized editing, but it did become tedious in a few moments for me. There were just a couple shots that were repeated too many times. The majority of the actual just moment to moment, cut to cut editing was great though.
I can generally tell when a film will be better on my second viewing, and "American Beauty" felt like it would fall under than category. I really enjoyed it, and I imagine those first twenty minutes will be better now that I know what the overall tone is.
The movie purpose is the full understanding of happiness and emotional and personal fulfillment.