Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics What's this?

User Score
8.6

Universal acclaim- based on 468 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Provoked by forbidden passions, Lester Burnham (Spacey) decides to make a few changes in his rut of a life, changes that are less midlife crisis than adolescence reborn. The freer he gets, the happier he gets, which is even more maddening to his wife, Carolyn (Bening), and daughter Jane (Birch) --especially when he turns his lustful gaze toward Jane's friend, the sultry Angela (Suvari). (Dreamworks SKG) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. 100
    A triumph of acting, writing and directing that defies glib description...the kind of artful defiance that Hollywood is usually too timid to deliver: a jolting comedy that makes you laugh till it hurts.
  2. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    100
    Spacey is diamond-brilliant in a role that plays as if custom-made for him.
  3. A tart, funny and tremendously sobering movie about the deepest recesses of personal unhappiness.
  4. A brilliant satirical diagnosis of what's most screwed up about life in this country, especially when it comes to sexual frustration and kiddie porn.
  5. (Mendes') film debut shows he can shock not only with noise and nakedness but with subtle observations.
  6. 80
    Surprises you with a kind of hardheaded romanticism.
  7. Reviewed by: Ann-Rebecca Laschever
    40
    In the end, the film lacks the skill of its actors and ends up feeling disjointed and confused about its own message.

See all 33 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 10 out of 115
  1. SusanN.
    Jul 27, 2008
    10
    A film I could watch over and over and never get tired of. A film to see before you die.
  2. DandyPants
    Apr 23, 2007
    10
    Superb movie. Although it probably wouldn't have received a 10 if Spacey wasn't playing the lead. Easily the most convincing and memorable character / performance ever. It's clear that many of the "reviewers" of this movie didn't understand the underlying themes. Although family is a part of the movie, it is not the central theme. The portrayal of family life is incidental, and is only part of the bigger picture. One reviewer said that the movie relied on "rote cliche" and as pointed out by another reviewer, this is deliberate. Ultimately the film is about the desire to be free and the consequences of this desire in American culture. A culture that supposedly is based on freedom. Lester wants to be free from his career and his dominant wife. Carolyn wants to be free from her own meticulous nature and self-doubt. Jayney wants to be free from her parents. Ricky wants to be free from his Dad's expectations. Frank wants to be free to express his homosexuality. Angela wants to be free to be herself but for whatever reason plays a role instead. Despite living in the land of the free, every character experiences great difficulty in being who they want to be and the consequences for their desires are great. [***SPOILER***]Lester is eventually killed, Carolyn's marriage is ruined and her lover ends the relationship. Ricky is estranged from his father. Frank murders to keep his secret and so on. It is clear that one has to find a balance between the desire to be free and the social responsibilites that we live by. The movie concludes that happiness and beauty is not in the grandiose religious, familial and economic pressures of 'ordinary' life, but is found in the daily appreciation of the little things we ignore as we try to 'succeed'. We all want to be free, but the way we live doesn't allow us to be. Expand
  3. Oct 18, 2010
    10
    I love how the film captures the strangest of all locations: Surburbia. Many of us who live in surburbia can relate to this awkward black comedy which makes you realise we are all a bit crazy really. Possibly the strangest element of the film is the lust Kevin Spacey has for his daughters friend. Although incredibly disturbing its also seems to make you love the main character even more and that can't have been achieved without some hard work and dedication. Expand
  4. Feb 15, 2011
    9
    Such a great film. The acting in it was superb and the casting for it was dead-on. The actors did their jobs 100%. Furthermore, the crew for that film did an amazing job. The writing was perfect and shots were incredible. Personally I don't have much to say about it negatively. I suppose sometimes it gets a little too melodramatic but the black humor more than makes up for it. Expand
  5. Nov 30, 2013
    9
    A wonderfully unique and powerful film. The script is so sharp and the acting is nothing less than superb. It is enticing to watch and certainly leaves a lasting impression. A must see movie! Expand
  6. chrisl
    Jun 5, 2009
    0
    A really awful overblown and pompous film with very poor directing extremely awkward dialogue, and terrible acting. Kevin Spacey in particular was really tight and bland in his role. Expand

See all 115 User Reviews

Trailers

Related Articles

  1. Ranked: Best and Worst Directorial Debuts Since 1990

    Ranked: Best and Worst Directorial Debuts Since 1990 Image
    Published: August 4, 2011
    A pair of new films from first-time directors, "Attack the Block" and "Bellflower," are receiving strong reviews. Where do they rank among the best and worst directorial debuts in recent years? Find out inside.
  2. The Least Deserving Best Picture Winners Since 1990

    The Least Deserving Best Picture Winners Since 1990 Image
    Published: February 22, 2011
    With this year's Oscars rapidly approaching, we look back at ten best picture winners from the past two decades that seem like questionable choices today, and see which great films were snubbed as a result.