American Beauty (1999)


Movie Review

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, and Chris Cooper

Suburbs are often full of facades.  What we see of our neighbors when they're out tells us nothing about what's really going on in their lives.  The Burnham family is the perfect example of this.  To the entire world, Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is a happy man living a happy life.  Little do outsiders know that Lester hates his job.  He's having marital problems with his wife Carolyn (Annette Bening), and his daughter Jane (Thora Birch) hates his guts.  Given all of this, it's no surprise that Lester has a midlife crisis.  It is surprising though when he falls for his teen daughter's best friend, Angela (Mena Suvari).  Sam Mendes gives us one of the greatest onscreen critiques of the everyday life of the American suburbanite.  Superb acting from a stellar cast coupled with the director's graceful tackling of potent themes of American life creates a brilliant film full of commentary that resonates throughout all our lives in some way.  American Beauty makes us recognize the facades in our own lives.



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