‘American Beauty’

A dark, dark suburban drama, American Beauty viciously dissects its world of smug privilege as the tenuous links that hold it together are wholly and utterly eroded.

Trapped in a loveless marriage, Lester and Carolyn (Annette Bening – 20th Century Women, The Grifters) Burnham struggle to retain some semblance of order for their teenage daughter, Jane (Thora Birch – The Last Black Man in San Francisco, Above Suspicion). But she sees through the charade. Things dramatically change when the highly sexualised schoolfriend Angela (Mena Suvari – American Pie, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh) meets Lester (Kevin Spacey – The Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential) at the Burnham home.

An uneasy tale of obsession and obsessiveness with a superbly unnerving Spacey, director Sam Mendes’ (1917, Road to Perdition) feature film debut questions the American Dream where the new neighbours also deal with issues behind the facade of respectability.

Nominated for 8 Oscars in 2000 including best actress, score (Thomas Newman), editing – won 5 for best film, director, actor, original screenplay (Alan Ball), cinematography (Conrad L. Hall).

Rating: 83%

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