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American Beauty  


Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey)
Carolyn Burnham (Annette Bening)
Jane Burnham (Thora Birch)
Angela (Mena Suvari)
Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley)
Colonel Fitts (Chris Cooper)

Directed by Sam Mendes

Written by Alan Ball

Rated R for strong sexuality, nudity, language, violence, and drug content

Running Time: 118 minutes Distributed by Dreamworks
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American Beauty is an incredible, smart, and driven masterpiece. A look through contemporary life in suburban America is revealed through the eyes of Lester Burnham (Spacey). Lester's family includes his real estate selling wife Carolyn (Bening) and his outcast teenage daughter Jane (Birch). Lester is finally tried of everything, his job, his family, and mostly himself. Thus leading Lester to entering a stage of saying, doing, and dreaming of his personal desires and wants. As Lester moves through his transitional change, Carolyn and Jane also begin to go through changes in the world. As the film moves forward, life in America today is shown through a group of unforgettable and fantastic characters.

American Beauty is an instant classic; it takes its place as being one of the best and creative films ever made. This film is defiantly one of the year's best and most probably the best film this year.

The acting in American Beauty is brilliant and Oscar worthy. Kevin Spacey is amazing as Lester Burnham. This is his best performance to date, which stands out in already respectable resume. Spacey previous credits include Glengarry Glen Ross, The Usual Suspects, Seven, The Negotiator, and L.A. Confidential. Spacey is truly one of the most gifted talents in the entertainment industry. He has a great chance of winning his second Oscar with his performance in American Beauty. Annette Bening is excellent as Carolyn Burnham. Bening portrays a dynamic character that might also bring her some awards during Oscar time. Chris Cooper is furious and exile as Lester's military driven neighbor Colonel Fitts. Also, the young performers in American Beauty, which compose of Thora Birch, Mena Suvari, and Wes Bentley, deserve noticeable and respectable attention as well. The whole cast is extravagant and talented actors develop a great ensemble in American Beauty.

Sam Mendes' direction in American Beauty is full of creative and unique symbolism. American Beauty is Mendes' first directed film, however he is legendary director on the Broadway stage. Though this his first film, his direction is recognizable to great filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick, Oliver Stone, and Milos Forman. Mendes will probably also receive a lot of praise and awards for this film.

American Beauty was written masterfully by Alan Ball. The script is precise and full of colorful characters and vast sequences and actions. The story is a moral tale of our society. The script is very funny, warm, and moving at times. There will not be a better script than American Beauty to come out of Hollywood for awhile.

I can't say enough about American Beauty; it just takes its place as one of the most unforgettable and best films ever made. It is a movie that will make money, establish a large audience, and wind up winning a lot of awards. If you only see one movie for the rest of the year, see American Beauty.

Report Card Grade: A+


Beastman's Movie Reviews

Joseph C Tucker
Copyright, 2000 Joseph C. Tucker, reprinted with kind permission

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