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American Beauty

Where to Watch American Beauty

R
1999

Released in 1999, American Beauty is a dark and hard-hitting comedy-drama directed by acclaimed theatrical director Sam Mendes, marking his feature film debut. The film features exceptional performances from a stellar cast lineup, including Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, and young actress Thora Birch. Its narrative delves deep into the lives of an apparently ideal suburban family, unraveling their reality and opening perspectives on the hypocritical norms of American society.

Kevin Spacey, the protagonist, assumes the role of Lester Burnham, a middle-aged man trapped in a boring life and the monotony of a seemingly perfect suburban neighborhood. Spacey splendidly portrays a man going through a midlife crisis, encapsulating the essence of Lester's growing dissatisfaction towards his life. He is discontented with his job, his marriage, and his own identity, sparking a series of radical changes in his life.

Annette Bening portrays Lester's ambitious wife, Carolyn Burnham. As a driven and focused real estate agent, Carolyn is consumed by her quest for success and societal acceptance. She's fixated on maintaining an impeccable exterior, disregarding the rampant dissatisfaction brewing within her family. Bening's performance offers a striking commentary on the pursuit of the American dream and the price one pays for it.

Alongside them is Thora Birch, who plays their conflicted teenage daughter, Jane. She struggles to come to terms with her emerging identity, often clashing with her parent's ideologies. She's drawn into a complicated relationship with the enigmatic boy-next-door, Ricky Fitts, whose unconventional worldview challenges her own perceptions.

The screenplay by Alan Ball comprehensively explores themes of dissatisfaction, unfulfillment, and identity crises. The plot takes a layered look into the 'American Dream,' illustrating how it can insidiously seep into our lives, compelling us to chase illusive standards of success and perfection.

American Beauty enlightens the viewers about the facades people often build to please society and how this blind pursuit of superficial fulfillment leads to their downfall. Characters in the movie, each experiencing their version of an existential crisis, collectively symbolize the title itself, reflecting the often overlooked facets of 'American beauty.’ They invite viewers to question their own preconceived notions about happiness and success.

Throughout this journey, the film never loses its blistering comic touch. While it hits hard with its social commentary, it simultaneously delivers sharp wit and dark humor that provides a unique viewing experience. Its darkly comic undertones serve as a potent satirical reflection of suburban family life.

The cinematography by Conrad Hall adds a unique appeal to the picture, creating visually compelling frames that depict the characters' emotions and inner turmoil effectively. The movie utilizes unconventional images and symbols, like the haunting beauty of a plastic bag dancing in the wind, which become reflection of characters’ perspectives, asserting its stature as a considerable piece of cinematic artistry.

While the storyline might appear quite unsettling for some, it is essential to note that the disturbing elements are instrumental in exposing the dysfunctional marriage, repressed desires, and forbidden relationships that map the characters' journey from confinement to liberation.

The film doesn’t shy away from exploring taboo topics, divulging the dark side of suburbia concealed beneath the veneer of perfection. Each character explores their liberation in rather whimsical ways, which keeps the viewers engaged and intrigued by their actions and choices. Fascinatingly, the movie doesn’t lean towards passing judgment on its characters, rather leaves it to the viewer’s interpretation and understanding, making it a thought-provoking cinematic experience.

American Beauty received widespread critical acclaim and several accolades, including five Academy Awards, cementing its position as a modern classic. Overall, the movie presents an uncensored and candid portrayal of existential angst, a disintegrating family dynamic, and the pursuit of personal freedom, making it a must-watch for cinephiles and general audiences alike. Its exploration of primal human desires, coupled with insightful narrative layers, makes it stand the test of time as one of the seminal films of the late 20th Century.

American Beauty is a Drama movie released in 1999. It has a runtime of 122 minutes. Critics and viewers have rated it mostly positive reviews, with an IMDb score of 8.3. It also holds a MetaScore of 84.

How to Watch American Beauty

Where can I stream American Beauty movie online? American Beauty is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Paramount+, Amazon Prime, Apple TV Channels, MGM+, FuboTV, The Roku Channel, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD, Vudu, EPIX NOW. Some platforms allow you to rent American Beauty for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

8.3/10
84/100
Director
Sam Mendes
Stars
Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, Chris Cooper, Allison Janney
Genres
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