American Beauty


Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33

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Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    Spacey, an actor who embodies intelligence in his eyes and voice, is the right choice for Lester Burnham.
  2. TNT RoughCut
    Reviewed by: Christopher Brandon
    A dark comical masterpiece that single-handedly announces the collapse of the American family infrastructure as it exists on the brink of Y2K.
  3. 100
    It gracefully defies the usual categories, gets under your skin in ways you cannot anticipate, then works its way straight toward the heart. It's far and away the bravest and best movie of the year.
  4. A tart, funny and tremendously sobering movie about the deepest recesses of personal unhappiness.
  5. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Spacey is diamond-brilliant in a role that plays as if custom-made for him.
  6. A wonder of a film -- a luminous, beautifully executed drama that gathers the best cast of the year -- the best American film of the year.
  7. A dynamite comedy-drama that, unless it stiffs big-time at the box office, should be up for multi-Oscar nominations come February.
  8. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    A singular accomplishment so specifically keyed to Spacey's talents that it mandates going out on a limb to say it contains the performance that will ultimately be regarded as "the one."
  9. New York Post
    Reviewed by: Rod Dreher
    A flat-out masterpiece, surely the best movie of the year; indeed, an all-time classic.
  10. Rolling Stone
    Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    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.
  11. Baltimore Sun
    Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    A movie that will endure.
  12. 90
    Hilarious, slightly sick, and super-edgy ...the acting of its two principals, Annette Bening and Kevin Spacey, is so sublime that it's worth seeing on that grounds alone.
  13. Hilarious, painful and brutally frank.
  14. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    A script as fresh and distinctive as any produced in the States in recent memory.
  15. If you don't share the film's piercing vision of what really matters, someday you will.
  16. 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.
  17. A blood-chilling dark comedy with unexpected moments of both fury and warmth, a strange, brooding and very accomplished film that sets us back on our heels from its opening frames.
  18. 89
    A brilliant, exhilarating piece of filmmaking. It may even be the best mainstream film of the year thus far.
  19. Miami Herald
    Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Remarkably astute and devastatingly funny.
  20. (Mendes') film debut shows he can shock not only with noise and nakedness but with subtle observations.
  21. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Michael Wilmington
    I've got to admit it's a stunner.
  22. Portland Oregonian
    Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Though excellent in many ways, American Beauty is, finally, an uneasy mix of assured technique and simplistic satire.
  23. You know you're in the hands of a true filmmaker when you feel invited, at every turn, to share his sense of entrancement. I got that feeling in just about every frame of American Beauty.
  24. Time
    Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    Kevin Spacey (gives) a truly great performance.
  25. 80
    Surprises you with a kind of hardheaded romanticism.
  26. Black comedy of the deepest, richest darkness laid over an aching meditation on the atrophy of dreams.
  27. A ruthless dissection of suburban malaise.
  28. Philadelphia Inquirer
    Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    Mendes nonetheless works this screenplay like a jazz virtuoso plays with a familiar theme such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb."
  29. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    If it is never really as profound as it seems to think it is, American Beauty is consistently entertaining, and it earns points simply for acknowledging that all may not be perfect in the current boom years.
  30. A satire whose dead aim stops wounding - and starts making - stereotypes of white middle-classness.
  31. 60
    It remains a puzzling dream, vivid in detail and overly obvious in symbolism, fueled by half-digested lumps of malice and wonder.
  32. 40
    Bland and nasty, American Beauty has the slightly stale feel of a family sitcom conceived under the spell of "Married . . . With Children."
  33. In the end, the film lacks the skill of its actors and ends up feeling disjointed and confused about its own message.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 819 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 10 out of 127
  1. SusanN.
    Jul 27, 2008
    A film I could watch over and over and never get tired of. A film to see before you die.
  2. May 4, 2013
    One of the smartest, funniest, and most ironic movies I have ever seen. If I had never seen this movie, I probably wouldn't be the sameOne of the smartest, funniest, and most ironic movies I have ever seen. If I had never seen this movie, I probably wouldn't be the same person. This is by far one of the best films ever made, and one of my favorites. Full Review »
  3. Feb 13, 2012
    "American Beauty" is a masterful film. Kevin Spacey is at it's best and the film is filled with allegories and symbolism. A must watch.