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American Beauty (1999) – Movie Review

This review formed a part of the Year of Birth Films event hosted by the Fresh The task was to pick and review a film from our year of birth. I was born in the year 1999, and as someone who was born in that year, I could have picked a classic released in ’99, such as The Matrix and Fight Club, but for this event, I decided to take a risk and review a film that I haven’t reviewed released in ’99. I was more than happy to join the event yesterday. American Beauty is easily one of the weirdest films I’ve ever seen and it can get a bit confusing.

The film focues on Lester Burnham, an advertising executive whose seems to have a perfect life, but in reality, he’s suffering a midlife crisis and enters into a deep depression. He soon gets infatuated by his daughter’s friend, Angela, and begins to give into his sexual fantasies.

The film is able to satire the middle class’s perception of love and beauty while delving deep into a man’s slow drive into insanity and giving into his dangerous fantasies. Sam Mendes does a great job in showcasing those aspect while dealing with the themes of lust, love, sexuality, materialism and liberation and is further complimented by Alan Ball’s magnificent script.

The cinematography is astounding and manages to compliment to the film’s setting. Thomas Newman’s score is phenomenal and adds to the film’s narrative. The performances by the cast is terrific, especially Kevin Spacey, who manages to turn in a charismatic performance as Lester Burnham.

However, these are some issues I have with the film: the film’s plot can be confusing and hard to follow. The film does drag down during the second act and some of the sex scenes can be uncomfortable to watch. The fact that a middle aged man is falling in love with a teenager seems to be creepy and it’s very off putting to me. I also didn’t like the character of Ricky, as he looked like a creepy asshole to me.

The impact of American Beauty is undeniable, as it made Sam Mendes into a household name and formed a part of movies where it satirized our society, such as Fight Club and American Psycho, but the film can be genuinely disturbing and uncomfortable to watch at times.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐½

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