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American Beauty (1999)

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A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.



228 ( 7)
Top Rated Movies #63 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 103 wins & 96 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Barry Del Sherman ...
Sale House Woman #1
Sale House Man #1
Fort Atkinson ...
Sale House Man #2
Sue Casey ...
Sale House Woman #2


Lester and Carolyn Burnham are, on the outside, a perfect husband and wife in a perfect house in a perfect neighborhood. But inside, Lester is slipping deeper and deeper into a hopeless depression. He finally snaps when he becomes infatuated with one of his daughter's friends. Meanwhile, his daughter Jane is developing a happy friendship with a shy boy-next-door named Ricky, who lives with an abusive father. Written by Jessie Skinner <eietherbinge@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexuality, language, violence and drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

1 October 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Belleza americana  »

Box Office


$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$861,531 (USA) (17 September 1999)


$130,058,047 (USA) (2 June 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The high school campus scenes, including the Spartanette dance sequence in the gymnasium, were shot at South High School in Torrance, California. See more »


During the beginning of the film, after Jane gets onto the car, Carolyn is waiting by the driver seat with her arm on the windscreen. As Lester approaches the car, she moves her hand up, but the following shot shows her hand unmoved. See more »


[first lines]
Jane Burnham: I need a father who's a role model, not some horny geek-boy who's gonna spray his shorts whenever I bring a girlfriend home from school. What a lame-o. Someone really should just put him out of his misery.
Ricky Fitts: Want me to kill him for you?
Jane Burnham: Yeah. Would you?
See more »

Crazy Credits

thanks to all at the Donmar Warehouse in London and Dr. Bill and Alice See more »


Referenced in Heroes: Chapter Seven 'Nothing to Hide' (2006) See more »


We Haven't Turned Around
Written by Ian Ball, 'Paul Blackburn', Thomas Gray, Benjamin Ottewell and Oliver Peacock
Performed by Gomez
Courtesy of Virgin Records Limited/Virgin Records America, Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

a very well done film that continues to amaze me...
7 July 2001 | by (Connecticut) – See all my reviews

When I first saw this movie in theaters, I found it to be very funny. When I rented it at home, I found it to be very sad and complex. Looking at it now, I realize that it is surely one of the most extraordinary films ever to come out of Hollywood. To some it may look trite or cliched, or maybe too un-ordinary to be worthy of its praise, but the overall impact of this film is extremely powerful. After you've seen it, you know you've seen something.

A few notable elements stand out. The direction is superb; this is visually a superior film, for the director understands the subtle changes in tone. The writing is equally compelling; the story effortlessly interweaves multiple stories to create one amazing movie. The haunting music is also notable. Lastly is the acting. Kevin Spacey has done excellent films before, and he can add this one to the list. He may be a little to witty to suggest the overshadowed character he portrays, but he simply disappears into the role. Annette Bening is also fine; a less strong role, but she is magnificent none the less. As the teenagers, Thora Birch is able to mesmerize us with one intense look; her "typical teenager" role is fleshed out completely. I enjoyed Mena Suvari's character equally. It seemed that she did not receive as much acclaim, but her performance evokes both innocence and experience, and her scenes toward the end give her a depth unlike any other character. And Wes Bentley, as the video-taping boy next door, is easily the most original character. At first he seems a little tense, but, like Spacey, he sinks into the role. His "purpose" in the film, unlike anyone else's, is a mystery, thus making him the most enigmatic person.

Most films are able to make a lasting impression on its audience, but never has a movie been known to "move" its viewers as much as this movie. It truly says something about life, no matter how predictable or tacky it appears, this film disturbingly shows us how to appreciate our individual lives, so therefore, when they are over, we each have something to remember.

119 of 143 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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