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American Beauty

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: American Beauty

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening
Director: Sam Mendes
Rated: R
RunTime: 121 Minutes
Release Date: May 1999
Genres: Drama, Comedy

*Also starring: Mena Suvari, Thora Birch, Peter Gallagher, Allison Janney, Sam Robards, Barry Del Sherman, Wes Bentley, Chris Cooper

Review by PatrickK
4 stars out of 4

American Beauty tells the story of a family breakdown - couple Lester Burnham (Spacey) and Carolyn (Bening) are living a sexless, lifeless marriage and their daughter, Jane (Birch) hates them both. Tired of revolving around social norms, Lester quits his advertising job and meets his new, drug dealing, video filming 18 year old neighbour Ricky (Wes Bentley), and his former Marine father (Chris Cooper). He works at a fast food outlet, buys his dream car and starts working out - and he has never felt happier. Meanwhile, Carolyn is becoming more and more estranged from her husband, despising him and Jane as she gets into a relationship with a real-estate agent. Jane takes a strange liking to Ricky next door and she begins to understand how Ricky appreciates beauty. She becomes more distant from her sexy, precocious friend Angela (Mena Suvari). The film's in-depth look at society and relationships, and the dealings with such issues as homosexuality, drugs, homophobia, sex, depression and gun ownership makes it a strong film about the now with a good element of comedy and eventual surprise.

Being a teenager, this film has kept me thinking and thinking, a good two months after I saw it. And thats one of the fantastic things about this film - everybody who sees it will take something different away and really should have been thoroughly entertained by it. While, like most viewers, I tended to become sympathetic of Lester's situation, I really liked Ricky's character - strange as he was - someone who could find beauty where it is usually overlooked. After the film I had to ask and still do ask: What could possibly have been done to bring the Burnham's back together as a family? I believe anyone who sees this film will have their perspective on everyday life given a severe twist. Quite possibly, one of the greatest films ever made.

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