‘American Beauty’ in review

Critically acclaimed film examines the provocative side of American suburbia

More stories from Alyssa Anderson

Getting Weird
December 13, 2018

Years after its release in 1999, critics continue to hail “American Beauty” as one of the best movies of all time, and as a self-proclaimed movie buff, I agree with this wholeheartedly.

Director Sam Mendes’ “American Beauty” is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Set in a sleepy suburban community, “American Beauty” tells the story of the Burnhams, a typical, albeit dysfunctional, nuclear family. Patriarch Lester Burnham (played by the one and only Kevin Spacey) finds himself in the midst of a midlife crisis after becoming increasingly infatuated with his 16-year-old daughter’s best friend, Angela (Mena Suvari).

Lester’s obsession with Angela provokes him to make some changes in his life, such as quitting his job as an advertising executive and smoking pot with his troubled next-door neighbor, Ricky (Wes Bentley), who also happens to be the object of his daughter’s affection.

Needless to say, Lester’s lifestyle changes do not bode well with his neurotic wife, Barbara (Annette Benning), and his delightfully angst-ridden daughter, Jane (Thora Birch).

Eventually, Lester’s inappropriate feelings for Angela catch up to him. Things don’t go well for Lester, as you can probably assume. Nothing good can happen when a 42-year-old man falls madly in love with a teenage girl.

To learn the fate of the crumbling Burnham family, at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26, make your way to the Woodland Theater in Davies. “American Beauty” is a must-see.

While the plot of “American Beauty” is not all that groundbreaking, the acting and cinematography are what makes this film into the masterpiece it is. At the 2000 Academy Awards, the film garnered five awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Kevin Spacey.

One critic on Rotten Tomatoes described “American Beauty” as “deeply disturbing, acerbically funny, brilliantly acted, breathtakingly original and highly sophisticated.”

Another claims Spacey’s portrayal of Lester Burnham “the best performance of his career” which, if you have seen “House of Cards,” is really saying something.

As you may or may not have noticed by now, I am obsessed with Kevin Spacey. In my eyes, he can do no wrong. Although I spent a good portion of my time fangirling over my boy Kevin, I can undoubtedly say that “American Beauty” is a beautiful example of cinematography and screenplay at their finest.

This film is hands-down amazing. It will make you laugh, cry and writhe in discomfort all the while forcing you into a state of deep introspection. “American Beauty” is not just a film but an experience.