American Beauty (1999)

  1. American Beauty is a 1999 American drama film directed by Sam Mendes and written by Alan Ball. Kevin Spacey stars as Lester Burnham, an office worker who has a midlife crisis when he becomes infatuated with his teenage daughter's best friend, Angela (Mena Suvari). Annette Bening co-stars as Lester's materialistic wife, Carolyn, and Thora Birch plays their insecure daughter, Jane. Wes Bentley, Chris Cooper, and Allison Janney are also featured. The film has been described by academics as a satire of American middle class notions of beauty and personal satisfaction; analysis has focused on the film's explorations of romantic and paternal love, sexuality, beauty, materialism, self-liberation, and redemption.... Wikipedia

When searching for images to put in this blog, I realized that the movie that I saw for the first time on TV(when it was shown in 1999 I didn't want to see it...I just didn't want need to explain why) was the sanitized version.  Thank goodness for that because I appreciated the STORY more.

Anyways, the movie is narrated by a person who has already crossed-over(A spoiler? Not really) to to the great blue yonder and the story starts sometime before that event.

It's about him (Lester, the narrator played by Kevin Spacey), his wife(Annette Bening), his daughter(Thora Birch), his obsession for and fantasies about his daughter's friend who apparently misrepresented herself and her sexuality(Mena Suvari), their next door neighbors and his wife's business rival, the real estate king called Buddy Kane(Peter Gallagher).

It is a story about needs, greed, psychological and moral damages, immorality, dysfunctional families, misreading scenes, drugs, violence etc.  Because of this, the MPAA rating is R(clicking the link will show spoilers in the form of words).

This was a HUGE box office hit, so I guess only a few people have not seen this film, but just in case you haven't seen it, but you want spoilers, just go to their Wikipedia page or click the R above.

After seeing the film I wondered why Kevin Spacey was chosen to play Lester Burnham. He's a great actor, yes, but... Maybe Debra Zane had her reasons, so I thought, but later I found out that he was Sam Mendes, the one who directed this film's first choice. Probably it's because a simulation of mixing the genes of Annette Bening and Kevin Spacey could produce someone looking like Thora Birch? Beats me. Oh, maybe I do understand the choice.  Someone who seems to be depressingly dull could actually be sexy.  Yes, he's perfect for that.  Anyways, it turns out that he was a great choice because his acting won him trophies, which includes an Oscar for best actor at the 72nd Academy Awards.

The rest of the cast is great.  Chris Cooper's Nazi like attitude turned soft to confused was awesome.  The way his eyes moved and his facial expressions were excellent.

Annette Bening was great in portraying the damsel trapped in an arid dessert then suddenly finds an oasis, only to find out later that the oasis was only a mirage.

Thora Birch is a favorite of mine.  Since she was a little girl, she always played her roles well.  She was wonderful as the psychologically damaged Jane Burnham.

Mena Suvari plays Jane's best friend, Angela, who pretends to be experienced and because of her sultry nymphet-like figure, she is very believable.  There's a danger in pretending to be more experienced than you really are.  I say that with conviction!

Wes Bentley is more than a handsome face.  He is a great actor.  He could be stoic, shy and rebellious. He's like a chameleon or a shape-shifter...he can be anything or anyone he puts his heart and mind to be.

Also in the movie are Scott Bakula(who plays Jim Olmeyer, a gay athletic neighbor), Sam Robards(Scott's character's partner, Jim "JB" Berkley, who is equally athelic), Barry Del Sherman (Brad Dupree, Lester's Direct Superior) and Allison Janney(who plays Ricky Fitts' mother and Col. Fitts' wife called Barbara), among others.

Would I watched the FULL FILM FEATURE? Maybe, but probably not.  

Directed by Sam Mendes
Written by Alan Ball
Casting by Debra Zane

Congratulations to the whole team!

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