American Beauty reviews

American Beauty

1999 American black comedy-drama film written by Alan Ball and directed by Sam Mendes in his directorial debut Website

Approval Rate: 76%

76%Approval ratio

Reviews 99

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    Fri Jun 26 2009

    The film begins with a young girl talking about her Dad. "Do you want me to kill him?" This tells you it will be a sicko movie! Then we see a street with a voice from a man with psychological problems. There are weird neighbors for this strange family. Lester has a job in advertising (professional lying?); is he expendable? There is conflict at the dinner table. "What happened?" Carolyn is in real estate sales, she has lookers not buyers. [Are her emotions embarrassing?] Jane is a cheerleader with emotional problems. Lester has a fantasy; is he pathetic? Does Angela have a problem too? Is a neighbor a voyeur? "Oh, gross!" Are the other neighbors strange? What's their business? [Does it seem like a cartoon drama?] The character of Angela is displayed as if to suggest future failure. Is their conversation real? Does Ricky look too old for high school? The film runs on with conversations that seem weird. What kind of job does Ricky have? Why is Angela so friendly? Are their conversatio... Read more

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    Tue Mar 18 2008

    Ho hum. This trendy bucket of tripe hit all the right notes in the late nineties to give all the critics and others of that ilk the vapors as to how great this was. I know, I know, it won an Oscar and blah, blah, blah. I give it a three since I hit the three by accident and I was too lazy to reduce it down to a two.

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    Fri Jun 22 2007

    I thought it was dull and laden down with stereotypes and clichés.  It was well produced and featured great acting but the overall effect was a long quiet scream of cynicism about middle class life.  Ya, ya, ya the American dream is a hollow sham and we all live lives of quiet desparation, or so Hollywood has been telling me for the last 40 years.  Everyone has their moments of doubt and even depression, but if we were all as moribund as the characters in this film and I mean every single character, there would be piles of dead suburbanites strewn around vats of purple kool-aid every weekend.Now don't get me started on The English Patient.

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    Wed Apr 26 2006

    I seriously doubt that this reflects suburban life.

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    Mon Jul 11 2005

    The film is a cheap-shot at American suburbia culture. I didn't think it was as groundbreaking or having 'chic social commentary' as most others did. . .but the film was raunchy, funny, and had good performances. And Sam Mendes can sure shoot a good-looking movie. (He also directed the underrated and superior film Road to Perdition)

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    Wed Feb 16 2005

    I've always like Kevin I'm giving it 2 stars...but the film itself was disappointing and deserves a 1. I know it was trendy to like it...but really...what new ground did this film cover? It tried to take a darkly funny yet hurtful view of the American family...great. It's been done to death. We KNOW life isn't like Leave It To Beaver. And I felt like the pervy aspect was graphically displayed-- not for the sake of the film plot-- but to titilate the audience. In the end, this film lacks integrity, but somehow people have bought into the hype. I don't think the makers were trying to make a higher point at all. I think they were trying to win awards and cash their checks. If it had taken us to some new place-- then I would respect it. But it didn't. BOO!

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    Sun Jan 23 2005

    A movie that has no respect for the middle class. The scene in which Mena Suvari could have been shot in from the side and suggested nudity, but Director Mendes has no respect for Suvari and exposes her. You can see her discomfort. Truly and ugly and hateful film.

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    Fri Feb 05 2010

    I think I just love screwed up movies because they're screwed up. There's nothing particularly great about this movie... I just love it for some reason. Also, I can totally envision myself snapping like Kevin Spacey's character does at his career-obsessed wife. He was apparently going through his mid-life crisis, but in this case it was more like a mid-life awesomeness.

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    Tue Nov 10 2009

    Snobs say _The Ice Storm_ is better, I can't comment but I have found many of the characters relevant to problems in American society

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    Sat Sep 20 2008

    Tampoco fue para tanto, no? y haber visto a Anita Obregón copiando la imagen de las flores.... me da escalofríos de sólo pensarlo

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    Tue Jul 22 2008

    american what?

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    Wed Jun 04 2008

    It is ok....what's the deal with the plastic bag????

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    Mon Mar 17 2008

    A pretty good movie, but believe it was overrated too.

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    Fri Mar 14 2008

    I loved this movie...Im not even sure why other than Kevin Spacey smoken pot and just throwing himself OUT of the rat race was cool. There were some very strange people in that movie!

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    Fri Mar 14 2008

    I guess it was a well made movie, because I couldn't stop watching it , but I don't know, it was just weird.

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    Fri Jul 20 2007

    It has its moments, and Spacey, as always is very strong. I think its very good, but a long way short of great.

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    Sun Jan 01 2006

    The more I watch it, the less I like it.....but I still do like it a lot. The first time it was really amazing, but I mostly love Kevin Spacey's performance.

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    Fri Dec 17 2004

    A bizarre, beautifully filmed and wonderfully acted movie. You are glued to the screen watching these dysfunctional people descend into suburban madness.

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    Fri Oct 15 2004

    Never in all my life has one movie had such an effect on me and my mentality. American Beauty is not an action film. It will not dazzle you with visual effects, hunky leading men, or a thrilling plot. But what it will dazzle you with is its poetic and thought provoking dialogue, its perfectly depicted story of suburban life, its subtle but brilliant music score composed by Thomas Newman, and most of all, its very impressive acting. This film achieves what many directors often fail to do. It manages to be a perfect combination of humour, drama, romance and a reminder of how we can take the most beautiful things on Earth for granted sometimes. In the words of Lester Burnham (Spacey), You have no idea what I'm talking about I'm sure. But don't worry, you will someday.

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    Thu Jul 22 2004

    Masterpiece. I can't think of another character I can identify more with, from '90s cinema, than Lester Burnham. I can't remember how I got to be this....sedated.

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    Wed Apr 21 2004

    I remember my grandmother buying this. We watched it and we couldn't stop laughing at Kevin Spacey's character and his antics. Wes Bentley plays a bizarre neighbor. Mena Suvari clearly is beautiful and the scene with rose petals is symbolic of her amazing temptation. It has a interesting story with a twist in the ending!

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    Thu Apr 08 2004

    I think some people may have missed out on the main theme of the story... American Beauty shows you both how shallow people can be with having affairs, pretending that you have had sex when you are a teenager, hating gays and hating your job. But then it delves deeper than that - but this tends to happen with small parts where the characters aren't talking. His wife who ends up having an affair shows her fragilty when she tries to sell the house and at the end bursts into tears and hates herself for doing it and takes out her unhappiness on her husband. The teenage friend who boasts about all the sex she has had - where we find out later on that she is in fact a virgin, shows her fragilty when she is wiping her tears away and looks at herself in the bathroom, as well as when her friends boyfriend tells her exactly what she is. Sad and lonely.. And the main character finally sees that his life isn't as bad as what he thought it was, he has a beautiful wife and daughter. He realises that... Read more

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    Tue Dec 16 2003

    It was a movie about a middle-aged man having a mid-life crisis. He later gets tired of people controlling him or shoving him into the background and decides to take his life back. At some point in our lives we try to regain control of ourselves and do something that makes us happy.

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    Tue Dec 16 2003

    Once again Andrew Scott has blown me away with a great movie review and it even convinced me to change my review a little bit on this particular movie. I still do not care for the movie, and I still wouldn't recommend it to children or maybe not even most teenagers, but after reading Andrew's thoughtful review on this movie, I don't any longer consider it to be about straight couples not being able to live in love and harmony. I do still feel the movie has too much hate and violence in trying to make its point about beauty, but maybe that is the only way some people can find love...I don't know. I just don't care for this movie, and I will never watch it again. But it isn't near as bad as other movies out there, that is for sure. And as always, Kevin Spacey is an excellent actor and can pull anything off that is put before him.....

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    Mon Dec 15 2003

    Theme is about how everyone has their own sense of what finding beauty in life entails. The film illustrates that the traditional model of American beauty -- a nice home with your family in the suburbs -- can be a shallow facade and not as fulfilling as it appears. The theme suggests that deviating from glorified suburban ideals (by taking a fast food job, dating someone younger, befriending a misfit, being mistaken as gay, etc.) will bring you fierce recrimination, yet may be the only way for some to discover true happiness in life. The movie wasn't designed to be an uplifting crowd pleaser, as much as one that provokes with its message. While I was uncomfortable watching the movie at times, it was intriguing and affecting enough for me to want to view many key scenes a second time immediately afterward. As the movie states, where some might just see an empty bag floating in the wind, another might see beauty.

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    Sun Dec 14 2003

    Most overrated, overhyped piece of boring crap I have ever had the misfortune to TRY and watch. The WORST.

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    Sun Dec 14 2003

    The movie to see of the year, at least, according to the critics who didn't pan this movie. The movie follows around a pervert of a man, his premiscious daughter and her friend that is the same way, his wife in an affair, a racist neighbor and his ditsy wife, this one has no one with any sense of morals anywhere in it! The film is laced with graphic descriptions of sexual activity, profanity, nudity, drug use, amoral attitdues, and tons of other stuff that shouldn't be in any movie. Don't even accept this one for cash--unless you tape something over it like I Love Lucy, Andy Griffith Show or a movie like Gus or Emperor's New Groove.

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    Mon Jun 02 2003

    I have mixed feelings as to how this movie should rank against the greatest movies of all time. I mean, I love it, but that's because I can relate to Lester in many ways. It's hard for me to see how a woman would relate to wanting to be with 17 year old cheerleaders, but it's still high on the list on this site.

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    Sat May 24 2003

    "American Beauty" was a very good movie, but considering all the hype that was surrounding its release, it was a bit disappointing. I might have even given it five stars had it not been for the total commercialization of this film and how it was shoved down our throats before it even came on the big screen. It's a great story of life, death and everything in between. I thought that Kevin Spacey was phenominal as Lester, whose character truly evolves in this film. In the beginning it seems that Lester is chained down by some unknown force, and as the film progresses, we see him emerge and celebrate his newfound "freedom". I also thought that the insights of Ricky (Wes Bentley) were very inspirational and worded perfectly. Everyone involved made this film great, and it was capitalized with a phenominally emotional ending, which has someone already wrote, successfully punctuates a story of glory rather than demise.

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    Sun Jan 05 2003

    This is the greatest movie ever made!

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    Mon Dec 09 2002

    Entirely entertaining. Callmetootie is my nemesis.

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    Sat Nov 16 2002

    There are only a few movies that have affected me like this one. I had to sit for an hour afterwards just to ponder what I had just seen. Amazing movie!!

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    Sun Sep 22 2002

    This movie is so amazing it should be deemed illegal. It shows that the family living suburbia with the mercedes benz and the nice house and the lovely rose garden still isn't perfect inside. This movie takes it all to another level and makes the family so abnormal that it makes the Aadams family look like the Waltons. The catch phrase means more than what you are watching in the movie (the catch phrase is "look closer" for those of you who don't know). It means when you go home, when you out, when you somebody, something, look closer. There is probably more to them than meets the eye. This movie is a remarkable achievement, and I am happy that so many people saw the beauty in it that i did. To enjoy the movie more, try watching it really late at night. It becomes so much more over whelming. I recomend this movie to every one. If you don't like it, it's still entertaining in it's own twisted way.

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    Sat May 11 2002

    Man was this a good movie. Sam Mendes - first time director - he is the big thing for the future. He directed this marvelously, and came up with a well-crafted, brilliant, sad, movie. It's music is perfect, it's acting is perfect, it's script is absolutely brilliant, and Sam Mendes' directing is great. It thoroughly deserved its Oscars, and will prove to be a classic in 10 years time, most likely making it onto top 100 film lists all around the world, I would say it will be on AFIs. I bought in on VHS, you should too. See it. I found nearly NO flaws in it. Almost perfect. I watched this with an audience, and they laughed, they were shocked, this is such a great movie. Summary: PERFECT AND BRILLIANT. WILL BECOME A CLASSIC.

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    Sun Feb 10 2002

    Its a good movie it was once my favorite.The movie really touched me in several ways.Theres something you can't describle about the movie that really hits you I mean it tells of an american family with problems which is like real life!

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    Fri Feb 08 2002

    What an incredibly troubling movie. I didn't know whether to love it or to hate it. Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham is the epitome of everything that's wrong with society ... and nobody could play it better. But, should you like the movie or not? Is it fair to be disturbed by the movie and still like it or not? Is it ok to love a movie that's about everything we should hate? Find out for yourself. You'll be glad you did.

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    Wed Oct 24 2001

    A beauty of a film. Acting first class and Spacey is terrific from start to finish. His mentor Jack Lemmon would be proud. Directing is superb from debutant Mendes. Music brilliant.

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    Mon Jul 30 2001

    I hated it. All American white Trash moive!

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    Mon Jul 30 2001

    this is good but it is very strange too. The actors are all great they do their roles very well. If you like a movie that has a lot of twists and surprises. you would probably like this.Some of it I found kind of disturbing.but I kept wanting to watch this to see what happended. LIke the slogan for the movie it said "Look Closer" that is pretty accurate.A good movie but an odd one too.

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    Fri Jul 27 2001

    American Beauty was truly a great film, and one of the first times I've actually agreed with the Academy on the Oscar awards. I actually hadn't heard a lot of the hype surrounding it, because I saw it before the awards. A friend of mine just said "American Beauty is great. Go see it!". I can say that it's definitely one of my favorites. You go through such a wide range of emotions from watching this film. There are many comedic parts to laugh at, and some classic lines (like the part where Lester writes about what he does at work). There are also parts where you feel rage or anger (how Ricky is treated by his dad, how shallow Angela seems to be, how much of a bitch Carol can be). It may be a bit of an over dramatization of how life in the suburbs can be, but it's not a far stretch and I really think it shows how bad it can be. People have some serious problems and try to cover it up with flowers, white picket fences, and other "stuff". This makes me think of Andrea Yates, the ... Read more

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    Fri Jul 27 2001

    When I saw this movie, I hadn't heard any of the hype about it; therefore, I had no expectations. I liked the movie because it forced me to lose precious sleep. Anything that can keep up during the few hours I actually get to sleep must pretty decent. I tried to watch it again many months later, and just didn't care. It's defenitely a one-time event.

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    Mon Jul 16 2001

    To answer your question, Ruby, I think this movie is about getting what you want and not letting stupid obstacles get in your way. Life is short. You never know...a repressed gay man might shoot you in the head or something

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    Thu Jul 12 2001

    One of the most hilarious movies I've ever seen! Poigant and powerful in a way that affects us all. A true beauty.

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    Sat Jul 07 2001

    American Beauty is an absolutely terrible movie. Anybody who has any morals should not like this film. It is a laboriously long film that exlploits teenagers and is very vulgar and lame. It is a degrading piece of garbage that never should have been made. Why it won so many Oscars is amazing! Maybe the academy is taking more to trash these days though.

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    Fri Jun 15 2001

    I can not believe that this picture got best picture! I hadn't seen it before then so had to go rent it. I was enormously disappointed. This movie is about as highly rated as Magnolia. Both movies suck~

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    Fri Jun 01 2001

    This film is brilliant and definitely Oscar worthy. I was quite happy with the performances of Kevin Spacey (although his politics and mine rarely meet) and Annette Bening. Kevin Spacey delivers his best performance since The Usual Suspects, and I've never seen Annette Bening better. The plot development was slightly sketchy. However, the character development which really is the basis of the movie is done very well with almost no equal. The movie does deal with some racey subjects though, so I know that many will dislike the movie simply based on that. For those of you who don't mind though, I highly recommend this film.

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    Fri May 11 2001

    Although "American Beauty" has a few moments that are insightful, wondrous, or comical, I can't help but to feel that it was overrated and overhyped. As a family drama, it serves its purpose in exposing the abnormal behind the facade of normal, but the characters feel too contrived to come across as genuine all too often. They are like cardboard cutouts adorned with quirks and mannerisms to make them feel human, but they are still cardboard cutouts none the less. The biggest turn-off about the film is every line that comes out of Lolita-ish cheerleader Angela's mouth: to be fair to Alan Ball, the screenwriter, how can a fourty year old man know how a seventeen year old girl thinks or speaks realistically? And Kevin Spacey's portrayal of Lester Burnham was just the moment the Academy was waiting for to recognize this man's tremendous talent, but I can think of a dozen roles off the top of my head in which Kevin played with more panache and skill! To quote liza5761om, I have taken the ad... Read more

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    Fri Apr 27 2001

    This film is so powerful that I sat down and realized just how much I connect with it. This is a straight up human movie. This is a story for real people. Watching this movie changed my entire outlokk on life. We only have so long to live. We should love life and live it to the fullest. Ricky's bag monolouge nearly brought me to tears. I'll love this movie forever. It deserves to be more than #7 on the list. I highly recommend this movie to anyone. It's deep beauty will touch you the way it touched me. And it's true; sometimes there is so much beauty in the world...

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    Sun Apr 22 2001

    what can i say, i loved this movie. words cannot describe how good this movie was. this movie acually changed the way i thought, the way i viewed life. amazing performances by the entire cast, best ensamble cast scince magnolia. there are so many beautiful things about this movie, like ricky fitz's bag monolouge, it almost brings me to tears every time i hear it, or kevin spacy's monolouge at the end of the movie. here is a movie that everyone can relate to, in one way or another, a movie about humans and finding that which was once lost, life. its about living again, and its not to late. people say that the end is too depressing but its not depressing at all. the ending of this movie is...beautiful. this is one of the best, if not the best film ever produced. it deserves best picture. a must see. sometimes theres so much beauty in the world......

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    Sat Apr 07 2001

    It was good. HOwever, I'm not sure It'll be remembered for all time. The movie stayed alive because Kevin Spacey was in it. The ending was very sad too, but I didn't see any emotion in Kevin Spacey's daughter's (in the movie) face when she realized her father was dead. It was ok.