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Encyclopedia > American Beauty (1999 movie)
American Beauty
American Beauty poster
Directed by Sam Mendes
Written by Alan Ball
Starring Kevin Spacey,
Annette Bening,
Thora Birch,
Wes Bentley,
Mena Suvari
Produced by Alan Ball
Distributed by Dreamworks
Release date September 8, 1999
Runtime 122 min.
Language English
Budget
IMDb page

American Beauty is a 1999 drama film that explores themes of love, freedom, family, and the American Dream. The film concentrates around the Burnham family of three, consisting of Lester (the protagonist), his wife Carolyn, and their teenage daughter Jane. This nucleus is then tied to other characters, including the next-door neighbours, the Fitts family. The film explores themes such as modern Western societies' focus on physical appearance and success, to the detriment of people truly getting to know each other on a deeper level. One of the more well-advertised plotlines was the infatuation of the main character with his daughter's schoolfriend. The film won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and is regarded as one of the finest multi Oscar winning films ever. American Beauty movie poster. ... Samuel Alexander Mendes (born August 1, 1965) in Reading, Berkshire, England, is a British stage and film director. ... Alan Ball (born in 1957) is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter best known for writing the screenplay for the film American Beauty. ... Kevin Spacey Fowler (born July 26, 1959 in South Orange, New Jersey), better known as Kevin Spacey, is an American actor. ... Annette Bening (born May 29, 1958 in Topeka, Kansas, USA) is an American actress. ... Thora Birch Thora Renee Birch (born March 11, 1982 in Los Angeles, California) is an American actress, mainly in independent films. ... Wes Bentley (born September 4, 1978) is an American actor. ... Mena Adrienne Suvari (born February 13, 1979) is an American actress of Estonian descent, currently best known for her work in American Beauty (1999) and the first two American Pie films. ... Alan Ball (born in 1957) is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter best known for writing the screenplay for the film American Beauty. ... DreamWorks logo DreamWorks, L.L.C., doing business as DreamWorks SKG, is a Big Ten studio in the United States of America which develops, produces, and distributes films, video games, and television programming. ... September 8 is the 251st day of the year (252nd in leap years). ... 1999 is a common year starting on Friday of the Common Era, and was designated the International Year of Older Persons by the United Nations. ... 1999 is a common year starting on Friday of the Common Era, and was designated the International Year of Older Persons by the United Nations. ... Drama is a term generally used to refer to a literary form involving parts written for actors to perform. ... Statue of Liberty - Liberty is one meaning of freedom. For proper-noun uses of Freedom, see Freedom (disambiguation). ... The American dream is the idea (often associated with the Protestant work ethic) held by many in the United States of America that through hard work, courage and determination one can achieve prosperity. ... Although he never won an Oscar for any of his movie performances, the comedian Bob Hope received two honorary Oscars for his contributions to cinema. ...

Contents


Cast

Kevin Spacey Fowler (born July 26, 1959 in South Orange, New Jersey), better known as Kevin Spacey, is an American actor. ... Annette Bening (born May 29, 1958 in Topeka, Kansas, USA) is an American actress. ... Thora Birch Thora Renee Birch (born March 11, 1982 in Los Angeles, California) is an American actress, mainly in independent films. ... Wes Bentley (born September 4, 1978) is an American actor. ... Mena Adrienne Suvari (born February 13, 1979) is an American actress of Estonian descent, currently best known for her work in American Beauty (1999) and the first two American Pie films. ... Peter Gallagher Peter Gallagher (born August 19, 1955 in Armonk, New York) is an American actor who currently stars as Sandy Cohen, a public defender and corporate lawyer, on the Fox television show The O.C.. He has recently become quite well-known, as his trademark is his large bushy... Allison Brooks Janney (born 19 November 1960) is an American actress, best known as C.J. Cregg on the television series The West Wing. ... Scott Bakula in the 1980s Scott Bakula as Captain Jonathan Archer Scott Stewart Bakula (born October 9, 1954) is an American television actor most famous for his lead role in the series Quantum Leap. ... Birth name :Sam Prideaux Robards Spouse :Sidsel Jensen (1997 - present) 2 children :Suzy Amis (1986 - 1994) (divorced) 1 son Son of Jason Robards and Lauren Bacall Grandson of Jason Robards Sr. ... Chris Cooper (born July 9, 1951) is an American film actor. ... Insignia of a United States Air Force Colonel Colonel is a military rank, usually the highest below general grades, and just above Lieutenant Colonel. ...

Plot

Lester Burnham (Spacey) is a 42-year-old man whose middle class, suburban doldrums far exceed the standard middle-age crisis. His fourteen-year career at a magazine is going nowhere, his perfectionist realtor wife, Carolyn (Bening), drives him crazy and his angst ridden teenager daughter, Jane (Birch) barely communicates with him, simply writing him off as "weird."


Things soon begin to change around the Burnham household, however, upon the arrival of several new people who shake things up. While their neighbors on one side are a gay couple, Jim (Bakula) and Jim (Robards), the once vacant house on the other has now been occupied by the Fitts family. Colonel Frank Fitts (Cooper) is a stern, military man whose wife, Barbara (Janney), seems to be in state of domestic shell shock.


Little do they know that their eighteen-year-old son, Ricky (Bentley), a boy so obsessed with life and beauty that they once institutionalized him for two years, is actually a successful drug dealer with a penchant for videotaping everything, including Jane next door.


While that initially creeps her out, Jane soon starts to find Ricky interesting once she gets to know him. That only disgusts Jane's gorgeous and fellow cheerleader friend, Angela (Suvari), who thinks Ricky's a pervert although she herself claims she's slept with men just in an attempt to further her aspiring modeling career.


When Lester meets both Angela and Ricky, he finds a stirring within himself that he long thought dormant and perhaps dead. With Angela, who openly flirts with him, Lester goes into hormonal overdrive and constantly fantasizes about her, when not pumping iron to get into shape and make himself more attractive to her.


With Ricky, Lester finds a kindred spirit whose carefree attitude about life and work -- as well as the expensive pot he sells him -- causes Lester to change his outlook on life. Having successfully blackmailed his former company, Lester sets out to have a good time, not caring that his wife may be seeing local real estate king, Buddy Kane (Gallagher).


As everyone reacts to Lester's newfound attitude with shock, he must deal with the fact that Carolyn doesn't like his new self, that Jane half-jokingly asked Ricky to kill him, and that Colonel Fitts becomes suspicious of Lester's involvement with his son.


Films on similar themes

The movie Fight Club explores similar themes of the American dream and challenging societal norms. The main character in Fight Club, like Lester Burnham, is displeased with his current lifestyle and begins participating in illicit or counter-cultural activities. He also blackmails his boss for a few years' pay. Both films end with a crucial destructive event that nevertheless leaves the viewer optimistic about the future. Fight Club (1999) is a film based on the novel Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. ... The American dream is the idea (often associated with the Protestant work ethic) held by many in the United States of America that through hard work, courage and determination one can achieve prosperity. ...


The film Donnie Darko exhibits parallels of teenage angst and alienation delivered in a similar stylistic manner. It is worth noting that Donnie Darko was released in 2001 and may in fact be influenced by American Beauty. Donnie Darko Donnie Darko is a 2001 film, the first by writer and director Richard Kelly. ...


In Vladimir Nabokov's well-known novel Lolita, a man by the name of Humbert lusts after a much, much younger girl; the same plot features in American Beauty. Two films have been made from the book, by Stanley Kubrick and Adrian Lyne respectively. Lester Burnham is an anagram of "Humbert learns", a reference that is, in fact, deliberate. Furthermore, the family name of Nabokov's Lolita, Haze, is homophonous with Angela's last name, Hayes. Technically speaking, Angela Hayes is roughly four years too old to be a "nymphet" in the way Nabokov's novel defines; however, she meets the definition of "nymphet" in more widespread usage. Vladimir Nabokov Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (Russian: Владимир Владимирович Набоков; pronounced: vlah-DEE-meer nah-BAWK-awf) (April 10 O.S. [April 22/23 N.S.], 1899 - July 2, 1977) was a Russian-American author. ... Lolita is a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, first published in 1955. ... Stanley Kubrick (July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999) was an American film director. ... Adrian Lyne (Born: March 4, 1941 in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England) is an English filmmaker and producer. ... Homonyms (in Greek homoios = identical and onoma = name) are words which have the same form (orthographic/phonetic) but unrelated meaning. ...


Another literary work with thematic similarities to the film is the play Death of a Salesman, which similarly deals with themes of alienation and the American Dream. Furthermore, early in the movie, Carolyn mentions that the "Lomans" (the name of the central family in "Death of a Salesman") have recently moved from the house next door. Death of a Salesman is a play by Arthur Miller. ...


Academy Awards

Won
Nominated

The Academy Award for Best Picture is one of the awards given to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; the awards are voted on by other people within the industry. ... Bruce Cohen is the Academy Award winning director of American Beauty. ... Academy Award for Best Actor - Wikipedia /**/ @import /w/skins-1. ... Kevin Spacey Fowler (born July 26, 1959 in South Orange, New Jersey), better known as Kevin Spacey, is an American actor. ... The Academy Award for Directing is one of the awards given to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; the awards are voted on by other people within the industry. ... Samuel Alexander Mendes (born August 1, 1965) in Reading, Berkshire, England, is a British stage and film director. ... The Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay is the Academy Award for the best script not based upon previously published material. ... Alan Ball (born in 1957) is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter best known for writing the screenplay for the film American Beauty. ... The Academy Award for Best Cinematography is awarded each year to a cinematographer for his work in one particular motion picture. ... Conrad L. Hall (June 21, 1926 - January 4, 2003) was a top-billed Hollywood cinematographer. ... The Academy Award for Best Actress is one of the awards given to people working in the motion picture industry by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; nominations are made by Academy members who are actors and actresses. ... Annette Bening (born May 29, 1958 in Topeka, Kansas, USA) is an American actress. ... From Rule Sixteen of the Special Rules for The Music Awards Original Score: An original score is a substantial body of music in the form of dramatic underscoring written specifically for the film by the submitting composer. ... Thomas Newman (born October 20, 1955) is an American film score composer and a member of a family who established a film-scoring dynasty in Hollywood. ... The Academy Award for Film Editing was first given for films issued in 1934. ... Tariq Anwar (born January 16, 1951 is the general secretary of the Nationalist Congress Party of India. ...

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