Meet Lester Burnham; a man who feels like he's completely dead inside. His wife and daughter despise him and do not show him any signs of respect. On the surface, the family seems like a picture-perfect family that everybody dreams about--but inside is a completely different matter. His wife is obsessed with material possessions and doesn't care for "petty" things like love or life, while his daughter resents herself because she isn't "perfect." Lester's mental coma is rudely interrupted when he meets his daughter's friend and starts fantasizing about her. The awakening might be due to a disturbing thought or feeling, but the wake-up call changes Lester and allows him to realize that there's always time to erase his "forced-image" and be the person he really is. This is all a set-up for a funny, disturbing and tragic movie.
I don't know about everybody else, but my mind was literally racing around when this movie was playing before my eyes. It's one of those films that allows you to pick up on something different upon each viewing. As I said in the beginning of the review, this film has a number of layers to it. There's so many different meanings and points to the film that it is nearly impossible to describe them all in one little review. Besides, the fun part of the movie is discovering these meanings and points for yourself. You know a film is successful when you totally lose yourself to it and allow it to challenge you in every way. The film is crafted flawlessly and doesn't have a wasted minute in it.
The acting from Kevin Spacey is really a sight to see. He gives his character all of the right needs and feelings that is necessary for the authenticity of his role. You don't even look at him as an actor--but as the real person he portrays. It is certainly a milestone in his acting career that will continue to be remembered throughout all cinematic history. Annette Bening is also superb in her role and brings life to her character, as well. Everybody in the film should be applauded, as they all make the film what it is.
"American Beauty" is a breath-taking masterpiece with a very high replay value. It's a terrific film on every front and does not disappoint for a single second. While it's not a movie that everybody will like, it's most certainly one to check out if you are a lover of films. If you're looking for something that isn't so ordinary, then this may be the chance that you are seeking. I feel that it is a unique and superb film that is very hard to express in words--you'll just have to experience it for yourself. -Michael Crane
American Beauty is the amazing directorial debut of theater man Sam Mendes. Penned by TV writer Alan Ball, the script may feel like a sitcomish satire of suburban hell at first, but beyond the laughs lurks a fascinating exploration of people trying to convince themselves they're not as miserable as they really are. It's also somehow a tragedy, as we're told right off that fatality will strike. Mendes makes great use of the possibilities of cinema. His film is always interesting and inventive visually, in an almost impressionistic way. Among other things, he makes very interesting use of American beauties, a variety of red roses that the wife cultivates and which Lester links to his fantasies. I also love the score by Thomas Newman, who should have one an Oscar, and the cast is as good as it gets. Annette Bening is convincing as always as an apparently successful career woman whose facade is shattering, and like Peter Gallagher's, her character is a bit caricatural but still effective. Thora Birch is perfect as her confused daughter, and so is Mena Suvari as her babe girlfriend. Suvari (who was one of the best things in American Pie) is highly desirable at first, then she starts talking and gets obnoxious, but eventually you get to really know her character and she's just another sad kid. This is a surprising performance and so is the one delivered by Wes Bentley, who's got solid screen presence and charisma as Ricky. He's able to really grab your attention and toy with your expectations, maybe disturb you a little but ultimately impress you with his focused mind.
Last but not least is Kevin Spacey, who really deserved his Oscar for his astonishing portrayal of a man who spins his life around. It's just so exhilarating to watch him gain confidence and retrieve hope in life. Spacey has done great work in the past, but this might be the role that he'll be remembered for. He goes through many different states of mind and behaviors in the film, yet Spacey makes it feel all natural. This is one of those performances that sticks with you and inspire you. I'm not sure I'd have the courage to follow Lester's footsteps, but I wish I had. And then there's Spacey's "got nothing to lose" attitude and return to an adolescent mind state which is hilarious! It's always fun to watch someone being a smartass and making uptight types speechless for once. I'm personally grateful to any picture that gives me a new respect towards life. American Beauty is one of my all-time favorite pictures. Check it out for yourself and see how you feel. It may just help you appreciate certain aspects of your life much better.
Its amazing how a film can use the most basic and simple situation and create magic from it. No Star Wars massive CGI effects or bombastic Lord of the Rings stuff. This movie is about real people and the issues we all face everyday. Keeping up the social smiling mask and being a good dog and waggin our tail as we get increasingly uptight. This movie was stunning for me. Not usually the sort of thing i go for. But i'm so glad some friends dragged me along to watch it. There is a scene where the guy nextdoor is showing Spacey's daughter a home video he took of a plastic bag blowing around in the wind. This scene is heart melting. "Sometimes i see so much beauty in the world..i feel i cant take it.." gasps the teenager. Oh my god, i nearly started crying when he said that. You may think this film is an american typical comedy. But its infact a mystical/philosophical journey of modern life and its stupid masks we all wear because we feel we are supposed to. Comedy, fear, arguments, serious issues of abuse, and everything else you can imagine. A must see. Buy it now.
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