American Beauty (1999)

April 28, 2022

Today’s movie of the day is the 1999 black comedy/drama film, American Beauty, an original screenplay written by Alan Ball and directed by Sam Mendes. It was a critical and box office success, winning five Oscars at the 2000 Academy Awards and grossing more than $350 million worldwide.

Lester Burnham (played by Kevin Spacey) is a suburban husband and father who is experiencing a midlife crisis. He and his wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) were in love once but are now just tolerating each other while their teenage daughter, Jane (Thora Birch), seems to hate both of them. Things change for Lester when his wife drags him along to a basketball game at Jane’s school, to watch Jane perform as a cheerleader. To Jane’s horror, Lester develops a crush on one of her cheerleader friends, Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari). But Angela isn’t bothered, in fact, she feels flattered by the attention. Lester’s infatuation with Angela serves as a catalyst that forces him to take stock of his boring, stagnant life. He reinvents himself, quits his job, starts working out and begins to smoke pot. By the end of the movie, Lester loses everything, yet he is no longer a loser.

“American Beauty” was the first DreamWorks SKG production to win an Oscar for Best Picture. The movie marks director Sam Mendes’s directing debut.


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