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Titles we have collected over the years
American Beauty
American Beauty - Special Edition (1999)
Front Cover Actor Back Cover
Annette Bening Carolyn Burnham
Kevin Spacey Lester Burnham
Thora Birch Jane Burnham
Wes Bentley Ricky Fitts
Mena Suvari Angela Hayes
Chris Cooper Col. Frank Fitts, USMC
Peter Gallagher Buddy Kane
Allison Janney Barbara Fitts
Scott Bakula Jim Olmeyer
Sam Robards Jim Berkley
Movie Details
Genre Drama
Director Sam Mendes
Producer Bruce Cohen; Dan Jinks
Writer Alan Ball
Studio Universal Studios
Language English
Audience Rating R (Restricted)
Running Time 122 mins
Country USA
Color Color
IMDb Rating 8.5
Plot
From its first gliding aerial shot of a generic suburban street, American Beauty moves with a mesmerizing confidence and acuity epitomized by Kevin Spacey's calm narration. Spacey is Lester Burnham, a harried Everyman whose midlife awakening is the spine of the story, and his very first lines hook us with their teasing fatalism--like Sunset Boulevard's Joe Gillis, Burnham tells us his story from beyond the grave.

It's an audacious start for a film that justifies that audacity. Weaving social satire, domestic tragedy, and whodunit into a single package, Alan Ball's first theatrical script dares to blur generic lines and keep us off balance, winking seamlessly from dark, scabrous comedy to deeply moving drama. The Burnham family joins the cinematic short list of great dysfunctional American families, as Lester is pitted against his manic, materialistic realtor wife, Carolyn (Annette Bening, making the most of a mostly unsympathetic role) and his sullen, contemptuous teenaged daughter, Jane (Thora Birch, utterly convincing in her edgy balance of self-absorption and wistful longing). Into their lives come two catalytic outsiders. A young cheerleader (Mena Suvari) jolts Lester into a sexual epiphany that blooms into a second adolescence. And an eerily calm young neighbor (Wes Bentley) transforms both Lester and Jane with his canny influence.

Credit another big-screen newcomer, English theatrical director Sam Mendes, with expertly juggling these potentially disjunctive elements into a superb ensemble piece that achieves a stylized pace without lapsing into transparent self-indulgence. Mendes has shrewdly insured his success with a solid crew of stage veterans, yet he's also made an inspired discovery in Bentley, whose Ricky Fitts becomes a fulcrum for both plot and theme. Cinematographer Conrad Hall's sumptuous visual design further elevates the film, infusing the beige interiors of the Burnhams' lives with vivid bursts of deep crimson, the color of roses--and of blood. --Sam Sutherland

Personal Details
Seen It Yes
Index 403
Collection Status In Collection
Links Amazon US
IMDB
All Movie Guide
DVD Empire
Product Details
Format DVD
Region Region 1
Screen Ratio Widescreen 2.35:1 Color (Anamorphic)
Layers Single Side, Dual Layer
UPC (Barcode) 667068538229
Chapters 28
Release Date 10/24/2000
Subtitles English
Packaging Keep Case
Audio Tracks ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 [CC]
ENGLISH: Dolby Digital Surround [CC]
ENGLISH: DTS 5.1 [CC]
Nr of Disks/Tapes 1
Extra Features
Color Closed-captioned DTS Surround Sound Widescreen Dolby