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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...And in a way, I am dead already."
"American Beauty" is a pure cinematic triumph that is both funny and sad. It's disturbing... and yet, it's extremely provocative and deep. The film is an extraordinary achievement that reveals a tragic and realistic story about a family that is anything but ordinary. It's a film with so many layers that it is almost impossible to dissect them all in one single...
Published on 10 Feb 2004 by Michael Crane

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Take it or Leave It
It's a difficult one to review this film. On the one hand it's a fairly monotonous look at the bizzare goings on behind 'normal' suburban life. On the other hand it's beautifully directed and wierd enough to captivate. It's a film that tackles prejudice head on and is all the better for this. For me, it just played the 'weird' card that bit too much and I felt...
Published 16 months ago by L


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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...And in a way, I am dead already.", 10 Feb 2004
This review is from: American Beauty [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
"American Beauty" is a pure cinematic triumph that is both funny and sad. It's disturbing... and yet, it's extremely provocative and deep. The film is an extraordinary achievement that reveals a tragic and realistic story about a family that is anything but ordinary. It's a film with so many layers that it is almost impossible to dissect them all in one single thought.
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
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophical, hilarious and shocking., 2 May 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: American Beauty [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
Just 4 words "The plastic bag scene"
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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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully crafted masterpiece, 13 Dec 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: American Beauty [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
If you are the type of person who appreciates every minute of your life, then you may just enjoy this film to its fullest potential. If you are the type of person who doesn't appreciate every minute of your life or the people around you, then you may just need to see this film, and learn to appreciate its full potential.
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.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Watch Film! - "Beautifully" directed, 26 Nov 2000
By A Customer
American Beauty is one of those films that you enjoy more and more as you watch it again and again. Brilliantly acted, brilliantly directed with a truly original storyline.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a very empathetic film, 28 Sep 2011
By 
bizmandan (staffordshire, england) - See all my reviews
This review is from: American Beauty [Blu-ray] [1999] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
American Beauty is at its core a darkly comic critique of suburban life with just a touch of redemption. Very well written and directed, the tale of Lester Burnham's final year of life keenly delves into the repressed desires, rampant materialism, skewed values, and gnawing insecurities lurking behind the crisply manicured lawns and meticulously decorated houses lining Any Street in the USA. A concept that I absolutely love! All to often the whole "everything is perfect" attitude of Americans can really get on my nerves, so it's nice to see trouble in sub-urban paradise through the medium of a bit of black comedy. (FYI by no means do hate Americans or America, I just think that sometimes the opinion held by a number of its citizens that America is perfect gets a bit tiresome)

Anchored by Kevin Spacey's gleefully sarcastic performance as well as, the superb ensemble cast of adults and teens we get navigated through the myriad dysfunctions with wit and flashes of tragedy.

I think all the characters in this film are constantly on a search for exquisiteness in the mundane, whether in rose petal-strewn dreams or grainy images of a dancing bag, the wonderful direction lets the audience see what the characters are seeing and feeling.

Just by the amount of parodies that have been made over the years, you can gauge the status of this film, its an icon! I really can't find any faults with American Beauty at all. Sensitive direction, amazing script, spot on acting from all the cast and the music and cinematography only work to complement the insightful compassionate feel of this movie. A must see film.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece that can be watched again & again, 1 Aug 2005
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This review is from: American Beauty [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
This is an absolute masterpiece that will be viewed and studied by film buffs for decades to come. If you are sick of the shallow trite that Hollywood regurgitates on a regular basis; watch this and have your prejudices lifted. Not a bad actor, character, plot nor scene. It all fits together wonderfully and thats without even mentioning the original and unique script.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true American Beauty!, 1 Dec 2004
By 
Stracs "Stracs" (Leeds, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: American Beauty [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
It is not often a film captures my imagination in the way that American Beauty did. It is a truly remarkable film full of spot on observations about modern life. The basic outline of the film focuses on the life of Lester Burnham, despised by his family, who hates his life and who sets about changing his life after falling for his daughter's best friend. However, the changes he makes do not ultimatly bring the satisfaction and happiness that he expects.
The film is beautifully made, telling the story in a realistic way so you believe it, but cleverly using elements of fantasy throughout to highlight the character's emotions. The direction and cinematography are spot on, and the soundtrack compliments them beautifully. American Beauty is fantastically filmed, with the fantasy scenes in particular truly beautiful. The use of colour is particularly striking. Sam Mendes fully deserved his Oscar for his direction here - he combines the reality and fantasy elements perfectly throughout, and the suspense builds up to a genuinely shock ending that you will never forget. The pace of the unravelling of the central two family's surburban lives are timed to absolute perfection.
The performance of the film, and again fully deserving of his Oscar, is Kevin Spacey as Lester. He is truly brilliant in this film, portraying Lester's troubled existence to perfection and totally believeably. It was as if he was born to play this role. His performance is funny and tragic at the same time, brilliantly subtle and a joy to watch. His relationship with his wife, Annette Benning, cleverly shown. They clearly adore each other deep down but have just lost the joy and communication from their lives. It is incredibly moving to watch two people so far apart trying to discover each other again. The supporting cast are all very able too and put in a collection of great performances that combine to make this film the joy it is. The relationship between Lester's daughter and her neighbour Ricky is also beautifully developed and demonstrates teenage insecurities to the full.
The film really does demonstrate admirable how the apparently perfect American surburban lifestyle is not always as it seems. The Burnhams demonstrate one extreme of this, with a family gradually disintegrating as they all want different things in life. The Fitts family demonstrate the even darker side of this. Ricky and his mother have clearly been ruled by fear by Mr Fitts and whilst Mrs Fitts has become almost catatonic Ricky has rebelled, turning to drugs and film to escape his family's reality. The Mr Fitts character is truly scary, and yet he is not painted as the black and white villain many films would portray. When you discover the secrets and trauma he has been living with you can even feel sympathy for him and understand why he has become what he has. This is the subtly of this film at it's best.
The best thing about the film for me though, is that it was one of those films that really made me think and see things in a different light. The observations about how we human's always want something more than we have are so true, and the film really did make me appreciate my life more, and enjoy the things I have got rather than wishing always for more. OK, so its a film and it wont change your life totally, but it really did teach me something. Surely when a film does that whilst still being as funny, tragic and entertaining as American Beauty is, then it is a truly great film.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!!!, 14 Dec 2011
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This review is from: American Beauty [Blu-ray] [1999] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
This film is fantastic and the bluray edition brings it more to life with crystal clear images. Loved watching it again on this new format and would heartily recommend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cinematographic Brilliance!, 2 Aug 2011
By 
Anurup Mitra "Anurup" (India) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: American Beauty [Blu-ray] [1999] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
I am neither inclined nor qualified to do a film review, but I can say that the audio and video quality is great (especially on Blu-Ray) as is the acting from the entire cast.

As an Indian, I had great fun laughing at the "antics" of the Americans. As a human being acutely aware of my own shortcomings and peculiarities, I identified with the characters and their individual stories in the movie and lived their lives vicariously.

In my opinion there is not a poor shot or a loose end in the film. The tying together of all the sub-plots is superb. I have always believed that the director makes or breaks a movie - so hats off to Sam Mendes. American Beauty is as far away from "formula films" as possible but he manages to pull it off with elan.

The movie stays with you long after it is over. You will be left wondering about the reactions and the future fates of the various people around Lester Burnham.

I have seen this film before and I can say that I will watch it again in future.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular............, 12 Dec 2003
This review is from: American Beauty [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
This film is wonderful. I took some time before watching it becasue with all the hype that surrounding it, i didnt want to be disappointed. Boy was i wrong!!!!
Its a completely unpredictable roller coaster of a film, crammed full of laughs, tears and suprises. I absolutely loved it. The whole cast did a terrific job and unusually for many films after watching it you cant help but think about it for weeks afterwards.
This is a film you can watch again and again and get a new experience each time.
Some would describe it as a Middle aged man's mid-life criss, but it is soooo much more then that. Its about love,boredom, odinariness, renewal,life, and perhaps most of all beauty....
to quote Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey)
Spectacular........
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American Beauty [Blu-ray] [1999] [Region Free]
American Beauty [Blu-ray] [1999] [Region Free] by Sam Mendes (Blu-ray - 2011)
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