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Non-Review Review: American Beauty

The Academy rarely gets it right when it comes to the Best Picture Oscar (GladiatorShakespeare in Love?), but this is one of the exceptions. Sam Mendes’ first major motion picture and arguably his best, American Beauty is a movie where all the elements seem to come together perfectly.

A bed of roses indeed...

A bed of roses indeed...

A dramedy as black as night itself, the movie is brilliant in its awkwardness. It’s hard not to cringe or wince at some of the moments on screen, but they are all executed fantastically. A huge amount of credit must go to a brilliantly pieced-together ensemble, but even one of the best roles in Annette Bening’s career won’t be able to distract you from Kevin Spacey’s brilliantly bruised and battered husband and father. There’s a sense of impending tragedy as Lester continues to empower himself, and we all know that rocking the boat will not end well.

Every other element of the production is top notch – as evidenced by how the movie has seeped into popular culture. Everyone can hum Thomas Newman’s Dead Again, even if they haven’t seen the film, and everyone is at least casually familiar with the film’s use of roses.

Mendes keeps the mood dark, but manages to prevent it from ever becoming oppressive. It’s a very deft trick, but the movie benefits from a lightness of touch absent in Mendes’ latest cinematic offering. Several of the characters in the film remark on finding beauty in the oddest of places – I reckon a lot of viewers will feel the same after seeing the film.

American Beauty is directed by Sam Mendes (The Road to Perdition, Revolutionary Road) and stars Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects, Se7en), Annette Bening (Mars Attacks!, The Seige), Thora Birch (The Hole, Ghost World), Chris Cooper (Adaptation, The Kingdom), Mena Suvari (Loser), Allison Janney (Juno, The West Wing) and Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap, Enterprise). It was released in the United States on the 1st October 1999 and released in the UK and Ireland on the 4th February 2000.

3 Responses

  1. Yeah American Beauty really is fantastic. It has to be watched a few times to really appreciate it.

  2. […] It stars Sam Rockwell (Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Frost/Nixon) and the voice of Kevin Spacey (American Beauty, The Usual Suspects). It was released in the US on the 12th of June 2009 and released in the UK and […]

  3. […] Nine Yards), Stephen Baldwin (Born on the Fourth of July, A Simple Twist of Fate), Kevin Spacey (American Beauty, Moon), Pete Postlethwaite (Romeo & Juliet, In the Name of the Father), Giancarlo Esposito […]

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