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American Beauty (1999)

R  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  1 October 1999 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 750,420 users   Metascore: 86/100
Reviews: 2,690 user | 268 critic | 33 from

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



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Top 250 Movies #63 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 115 wins & 82 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


... look closer


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)


AUD 11,029,726 (Australia) (15 December 2000)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The video for "Cancer For The Cure" by The Eels can be seen on a television Jane and Angela are watching. See more »


When Carolyn (with squeegee) is outside cleaning the sliding glass patio doors opening out on to the pool for the open house a sheer curtain panel is visible inside, when she throws open the front doors to the open house and welcomes prospective buyers we see in the background the sheers are flanked by heavy plaid curtains drawn open to either side. After she fails to sell the house and closes up the patio door at the end of the (same) day the curtains and sheers have disappeared and she draws textured vertical blinds closed across the same glass doors. 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 »


References True Stories (1986) 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 deep, wonderful, penetrating film; extraordinary irony in a psychological drama about the American life.
22 March 2000 | by (Jerusalem, Israel) – See all my reviews

I have come to see the movie with a certain prejudice. Everyone saying that it was so wonderful, so touching, so excited -- I usually tend to go with movies that nobody likes. Nevertheless, this one was a certain exception.

It is a wonderful psychological drama, a satire about the American community and about the American life; dark, painful irony and cynicism in the descriptions of life and characters; deep sarcasm on types of people in the community, habits of behaviour such as "...if you want to succeed, you always have to seem successful..." or "never stop smiling", parasites of the community, and, most importantly, the treatment of people who are "different", who are "freaky" to some extent; and eventually, there is no character in the film that is not odd in its way, although we have to wait for the very ending of the film, to discover this.

With very deep and accurate exaggeration, (most of) the characters in the movie demonstrate the worst, the darkest sides of their personality, while still remaining very human, very touching and very involving the observer. Everyone can find a certain similarity with characters and persons who he met in his life, in the characters described in the film. The tragi-comical events, the little pieces of funny, disturbing irony dripping from almost every episode, lead the observer to exploration of the American Beauty -- the beauty in life, and the way that we fail to find it, for all our life; the way we hide our feelings and emotions, even behind sullen walls of our sepulchre.

The acting is truly brilliant, the episodes are built logically, coherently, the dialogues are deep, thrilling, intriguing; every sentence and every word is deeply constructed, containing profound irony and intelligent elements of humors. The plot is very intelligently built, constructing a true indication of the sad situation of the American society, and an excellent ground for the actors.

An amazing movie, strongly recommended. 10/10

325 of 395 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
I changed my mind about this movie. I actually like it. christopher-townsend44
Films like this? blytheoakman
Why Colonel Fitts kissed Lester? chris610
Tough for Non-Americans to relate to? LorcaGonzalez
Great film but completely sexist. Here's why. MelancholyPonyAndTheCircusBoy
were the root beer bottles an intended reference to lolita 1962 Bowen_Ng
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