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Movie Review - American Beauty (1999 - United States)

Updated on March 11, 2012

The relationship between tragedy and comedy is a silken cord that binds them together almost invisibly, and rarely do we sense that as clearly as we do in American Beauty.

Ironic, satiric, but never condescending or cruel, the humor that leavens this story resonates because it is so ordinary. A middle-aged man does the predictable thing, fantasizing about his teenaged daughter's hot friend. The man's wife responds to her increasingly empty marriage by obsessing over the things she can — possibly — control, instead. Meanwhile, a young male neighbor watches, and we sense something dark there, below the obvious

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Suburbia has rarely been drawn so stylistically — or so truthfully as in this wonderful film. American Beauty is a terrific picture, with a pitch-perfect script and remarkable performances from Kevin Spacey and Annette Benning. Some of the dialogue in this film is absolutely dazzling in its simplicity, with underlying, nuanced complexity, and the ending is deeply uplifting, a wonderful confirmation of the value of the ordinary, the beauty in the day-to-day.

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I recommend this film about as highly as I can any picture.

Copyright © Roberta Lee 2012. All rights reserved.

(I am an artist and the author of the Suburban Sprawl series of novels as well as two nonfiction books. Find out more about my work at

Genre: Drama, Comedy

Rated: R

Running Time: 2 hr.

In Theaters: Oct 1, 1999

On DVD: Jan 2, 2002

Distributor:Dream Works

Directed By: Sam Mendes

Written By: Alan Ball


Kevin Spacey ... Lester Burnham

Annette Bening ... Carolyn Burnham

Thora Birch ... Jane Burnham

Wes Bentley ... Ricky Fitts

Mena Suvari ... Angela Hayes

Chris Cooper ... Col. Frank Fitts, USMC

Peter Gallagher ... Buddy Kane

Allison Janney ... Barbara Fitts


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    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      American Beauty is one of my all time favorite movies; do you have a favorite film?