User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 561 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 36 out of 561
Watch On

Review this movie

  1. Your Score
    0 out of 10
    Rate this:
    • 10
    • 9
    • 8
    • 7
    • 6
    • 5
    • 4
    • 3
    • 2
    • 1
    • 0
    • 0
  1. Submit
  2. Check Spelling
  1. May 4, 2013
    10
    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 same person. This is by far one of the best films ever made, and one of my favorites.
  2. Feb 24, 2014
    10
    The acting is great, the lighting is beautiful, the writing is pitch-perfect and the music is hypnotizing. This was Sam Mendes' debut as a film director. The result is a masterpiece!
  3. May 3, 2014
    10
    "American Beauty" is not just a film, it is a poem that is told by the warm voice of Kevin Spacey, accompanied by a soundtrack intense and exciting and a photograph soft and impact.
    The director does not exceed in the unnecessary, rather it keeps on soft tones and soft, as well as the actors' tests, which are the most talented ever seen in a movie.
    A notion aside the merits Kevin Spacey,
    "American Beauty" is not just a film, it is a poem that is told by the warm voice of Kevin Spacey, accompanied by a soundtrack intense and exciting and a photograph soft and impact.
    The director does not exceed in the unnecessary, rather it keeps on soft tones and soft, as well as the actors' tests, which are the most talented ever seen in a movie.
    A notion aside the merits Kevin Spacey, who in this film is shown not to be in no respect inferior to actors much discussed and overly praised by critics and the general public.
    The screenplay by Alan Ball is, as mentioned before, an intense poetry and reflective, that only the most sensitive will be able to fully comprehend.
    I absolutely recommend to everyone watching this masterpiece that can not miss in the collection of a true cinephile
    Expand
  4. Feb 13, 2012
    9
    "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.
  5. Mar 5, 2011
    10
    This is the best film ever made.It's really incredible.

    There isn't other film that can complete with ''american beauty''. Ã
  6. Aug 28, 2010
    10
    This movie is incredible. It will change your life in an undescribable way. Everything from the opening sequence to the last 5 minutes will leave you in awe.
  7. Apr 24, 2011
    10
    This movie is perfect, at least under the context I see it under. It was this film that inspired me to watch other movies and personally it's one of my favorite movies out there. There's better ones of coarse, but this one is the one I decide to hold on to, because of the impact it had when I saw it for the first time. It is a memorable piece, that runs deep and uses the color red toThis movie is perfect, at least under the context I see it under. It was this film that inspired me to watch other movies and personally it's one of my favorite movies out there. There's better ones of coarse, but this one is the one I decide to hold on to, because of the impact it had when I saw it for the first time. It is a memorable piece, that runs deep and uses the color red to foreshadow the lives of our dear beloved protagonists. Expand
  8. 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!
  9. Nov 12, 2012
    10
    Has it all. Even prepubescent nudity, which may not be a very good thing...but it has it.
  10. 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 moreI 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
  11. Nov 5, 2012
    10
    American Beauty is a triumph of acting, writing, and directing. Writer Alan Ball and director Sam Mendes truly strike gold with this jaw-dropping, entrancing film. It's truly one of the best films I've ever seen.
  12. Nov 28, 2012
    10
    I have never seen a movie that cogently blends together elements of a pragmatic social satire and a poignant domestic tragedy. Though, this is by far one of the most messed up films I have ever seen. . .it is also one of the best. When you have an incredible cast, an intelligent director, a brilliant screenplay, and amazing camerawork and music, all of these parts seem to fall into placeI have never seen a movie that cogently blends together elements of a pragmatic social satire and a poignant domestic tragedy. Though, this is by far one of the most messed up films I have ever seen. . .it is also one of the best. When you have an incredible cast, an intelligent director, a brilliant screenplay, and amazing camerawork and music, all of these parts seem to fall into place and work cohesively to create a masterpiece.. Collapse
  13. 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.
  14. May 25, 2011
    10
    Alan Ball's writing is genius, Kevin's acting is groundbreaking, Annette is funny, and the director is one of the best.
    long story short, the Oscars that were given to this movie were all deserved.
  15. Jun 17, 2011
    10
    this is a very good one, very nice and interesting story, and the end is incredible.
    highly recommended
  16. Sep 26, 2011
    9
    Not just a great, but an IMPORTANT movie.
    90% of people who hate it do so because they are painfully reminded of the fact that their safe, mediocre, success-driven middle-class lives look as dire as the protagonist's.
  17. Apr 21, 2012
    10
    A truly extraordinary dark drama/comedy. A movie that will make each and every one of us sit and appreciate life. "Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it, and my heart is just going to cave in."
  18. May 8, 2012
    9
    For me the year 1999 has to be one of the best years in film. That was a year of some really interesting and intriguing films, films that include Fight Club, Being John Malkovich, The Sixth Sense, Star Wars Episode 1, and The Matrix. It seems that something happened to the filmmakers that year and they decided to make more risky and maybe more films that reflect the usual manâ
  19. Aug 25, 2012
    10
    The word classic is one thrown around the film industry too often these days, it is only when you watch a film such American Beauty that the true nature and prowess of inspirational filmmaking can be seen. The film to end all others in a sense that none could ever live up to its masterful performances, witty script and direction extra-ordinaire. A must-see, as many times as you can, itThe word classic is one thrown around the film industry too often these days, it is only when you watch a film such American Beauty that the true nature and prowess of inspirational filmmaking can be seen. The film to end all others in a sense that none could ever live up to its masterful performances, witty script and direction extra-ordinaire. A must-see, as many times as you can, it truly lives up to the name. Cherish it, films such as these can come just once in a lifetime Expand
  20. Mar 23, 2013
    9
    A Film I Could Never Get Tired Of! The Score Of This Movie Is The Best I'v Heard In Years!
  21. Oct 30, 2014
    9
    From director Sam Mendes and Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball American Beauty follows the final days of Lester, a middle-class man whose marriage and life is on the rocks. Lester is not liked by his wife or daughter and is about to be sacked from his job. As a result he decides to live his life exactly how he wants, to the further frustration of his family.

    The film deservedly won five
    From director Sam Mendes and Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball American Beauty follows the final days of Lester, a middle-class man whose marriage and life is on the rocks. Lester is not liked by his wife or daughter and is about to be sacked from his job. As a result he decides to live his life exactly how he wants, to the further frustration of his family.

    The film deservedly won five Academy Awards including best picture, best director and best actor. Writer Alan Ball delivers a clever and darkly humorous script much in the vein of the excellent Six Feet Under and the cast are uniformly brilliant, particularly Kevin Spacey in the lead role. American Beauty provides a fascinating insight into what might be going on behind the closed doors of seemingly normal suburban households and is certainly a movie worth seeing.
    Expand
  22. Apr 23, 2015
    9
    The extent of this film's brilliance is quite overwhelming. You have a film centered on mid-life crisis--mixed with incredibly dark humor, irony and symbolism. American Beauty begins as a slow burn and quickly ignites into a thrilling and deep look at society and relationships.
  23. Mar 2, 2013
    10
    this is truly american beauty when you watch a film like this, kevin spacey and annette bening own their roles very well, very good story and very good writing a must watch.
  24. Sep 21, 2013
    9
    Funny, engaging and exhilarating. Kevin Spacey breathes life into his character and the movie itself. He deserves the Oscar. The first half was more than satisfactory. The second one got a bit bogged down before making a comeback and taking me by surprise. One of those movies that everyone should give a chance.
  25. Mar 10, 2013
    10
    One of the most memorable films ever, Sam Mendes strong direction and Spacey's beautiful performance lead this unforgettable film to the top.
  26. Jun 17, 2013
    9
    It had been a few years since I'd seen this movie but now that I'm older I really appreciated it a lot more and thoroughly enjoyed it. Top-notch acting and some stellar performances from the cast, as well as just having a great concept as we watch an all-American family fall apart as those in it start to do what they want with their lives. The final few scenes are really where it picks upIt had been a few years since I'd seen this movie but now that I'm older I really appreciated it a lot more and thoroughly enjoyed it. Top-notch acting and some stellar performances from the cast, as well as just having a great concept as we watch an all-American family fall apart as those in it start to do what they want with their lives. The final few scenes are really where it picks up for one heck of an ending, and overall it definitely deserved that Best Picture Oscar! Expand
  27. Mar 4, 2014
    10
    i rewatched this tonight for the first time sine '01. annette bening seemed too frantic and a little campy, the whole col. fitts thing glaringly obvious, and, of course, i knew the ending. that said, i still am astonished by it. wes bentley's rick is as moving. the much parodied plastic bag scene, overlaid with thomas newman's gorgeous score, ricky's love for all beauty in the world, andi rewatched this tonight for the first time sine '01. annette bening seemed too frantic and a little campy, the whole col. fitts thing glaringly obvious, and, of course, i knew the ending. that said, i still am astonished by it. wes bentley's rick is as moving. the much parodied plastic bag scene, overlaid with thomas newman's gorgeous score, ricky's love for all beauty in the world, and thora birch's tenderness for him reduced me to sobs as quickly as it did originally. i was even more struck by the reveal of who angela really was and lester's holding her as a father would, his scene with her in the kitchen is deeply revelatory and, yes, happy.
    annette bening grabbing his clothes, sobbing, is an image that has always stayed with me.

    it was film of it's time, but, it still works. as art, as filmmaking, as screenwriting, and as a master class in acting and cinematography. mena suvari on the rose filled ceiling, the petals fluttering down on lester's delighted face is as indelible an image as any in film.
    Expand
  28. Feb 7, 2013
    10
    Sono stato piacevolmente sorpreso da questo film. A tratti sconvolgente, con una sceneggiatura da premio oscar e infatti così stato A qualcuno potrebbe non piacere, ma un tentativo si può sempre fare nemmeno io ero così attratto dal film, e invece..
  29. Feb 25, 2013
    9
    This movie appeals to me in a way that I can't explain. I had never heard about this movie until I stumbled across it two years ago when I was doing some research on Kevin Spacey's acting career. I thought that I would give it a chance and when I watched it I was blown away. Everything about this movie, every little aspect, is great the acting, the sountrack, the screenplay, everything.This movie appeals to me in a way that I can't explain. I had never heard about this movie until I stumbled across it two years ago when I was doing some research on Kevin Spacey's acting career. I thought that I would give it a chance and when I watched it I was blown away. Everything about this movie, every little aspect, is great the acting, the sountrack, the screenplay, everything. It explores themes like sexuality, family and the superficial ideal that we all know to well, in a way that I consider to be nothing but flawless. I'm not saying that this is a movie for everyone (because it's definitely not) but I think it's a movie that everybody should see at least once in their life. It is a masterpiece and a classic that will live on forever. Expand
  30. Jul 4, 2013
    10
    This is just one of those movies that transcends. You would think that a story that largely centers upon a middle aged guy fantasizing about his teenage daughter's best friend would be a sketchy, but the way the film so artfully explores modern notions of beauty, fulfillment, and what matters is truly remarkable. A spiritual experience, this movie will change your life.
  31. Jun 24, 2013
    10
    Very powerful film. Well done to Sam Mendes on his debut film. I love everything about this film, especially Kevin Spacey's performance as Lester Burnham and his fixation on his daughter's friend. There are so many fantastic things about this film. The cast, all brilliant and I believe Chris Cooper didn't get enough credit for his role as Col. Frank Fitts. The cinematography is very wellVery powerful film. Well done to Sam Mendes on his debut film. I love everything about this film, especially Kevin Spacey's performance as Lester Burnham and his fixation on his daughter's friend. There are so many fantastic things about this film. The cast, all brilliant and I believe Chris Cooper didn't get enough credit for his role as Col. Frank Fitts. The cinematography is very well done. The soundtrack is a stand out aspect of this film, just incredible.

    One of my favourite films, just brilliant.
    Expand
  32. Jun 28, 2014
    9
    'American Beauty' is a caricature of suburbia, depicting how the picture of what is a normal family is just a facade, just some idealistic opportunism that breaks the line of fantasy. The elements of this, added with the writing, direction, acting, and cinematography especially, 'American Beauty' sums up to be one roller coaster of several conflicting emotions.
  33. Dec 23, 2013
    10
    Is this the best film of the 90s? Quite possibly, as no other confuses and delights more than American Beauty. The subtle complexity of its original and brilliant screenplay, coupled with its sensitively fabricated representation makes for an outlook-altering experience. It doesn't matter how many times I watch American Beauty, I sense a new meaning each time and am never confident that IIs this the best film of the 90s? Quite possibly, as no other confuses and delights more than American Beauty. The subtle complexity of its original and brilliant screenplay, coupled with its sensitively fabricated representation makes for an outlook-altering experience. It doesn't matter how many times I watch American Beauty, I sense a new meaning each time and am never confident that I know what the film means or what it is trying to say. Of course, the enigmatic and darkly beautiful nature of the film is helped along by subtle, honest and terrific performances from Spacey and Bening, a mesmerising score and stunning direction, but underpinning this all is a witty, dark, optimistic, pessimistic, original and overwhelming screenplay that gives this film too many dimensions to wave matching gardening clogs at. Expand
  34. Dec 21, 2014
    10
    American Beauty is not only funny and immersing, but offers a new spin on film. It graduates analysis and meaning to the next level. It doesn't hide it's sappy feel-good messages behind "deep metaphors", instead it just lets you have them, and take them in the direction you please. The acts of rebellion and production of art accompanying pure happiness throughout American Beauty make itAmerican Beauty is not only funny and immersing, but offers a new spin on film. It graduates analysis and meaning to the next level. It doesn't hide it's sappy feel-good messages behind "deep metaphors", instead it just lets you have them, and take them in the direction you please. The acts of rebellion and production of art accompanying pure happiness throughout American Beauty make it absolutely thrilling to watch, over and over again. It really lives up to its name. Expand
  35. May 3, 2014
    10
    It boasts all the depth and insight of a thought-provoking drama, and all the hilarity and irreverence of a great comedy. The acting is universally spectacular. American Beauty stands out because it takes a familiar setting and themes and spins them into something original.
  36. May 3, 2014
    10
    I do not usually base the size of a movie on the amount of awards won , and I do not want to do it even now , but we must recognize that awarded five Oscars for " American Beauty " , contrary to what many say , were richly deserved !
    The director is absolutely fantastic and innovative and you can almost feel . Sam Mendes, theater director , was able to start with a bang , giving us shots
    I do not usually base the size of a movie on the amount of awards won , and I do not want to do it even now , but we must recognize that awarded five Oscars for " American Beauty " , contrary to what many say , were richly deserved !
    The director is absolutely fantastic and innovative and you can almost feel . Sam Mendes, theater director , was able to start with a bang , giving us shots absolutely brilliant and perfectly designed to make the most of the character and the situations of each character. The staging is clearly theatrical , as well as the acting of all the actors. Among all it is, of course , distinguished wizards that Kevin Spacey ( who deservedly won the Oscar for best actor ) who gave us an interpretation absolutely magnificent and showed off her endless versatility. I have to say , though, that convinced me everything that the cast , including Peter Gallagher in the role of the rich man who steals wives there is perfect. But the highlight of the film is the script by Alan Ball, who in my opinion is one of the best ever written. He gave us two memorable monologues , such as that played by Wes Bentley during the dance scene of the envelope , and that played by Kevin Spacey in the final scene . Each of the two monologues are accompanied by the sublime soundtrack by Thomas Newman , who manages to make the scenes more sweet and harmonious .
    I really think that " American Beauty " is the perfect example of a movie . This is not to say that it is a film that should delight equally to all , it is always a matter of taste , but beyond saying that it is overrated and annoying anyone know how to criticize .
    Expand
  37. Nov 8, 2014
    9
    Gran película, con uno de los guiones mas originales que he visto y, posiblemente, Kevin Spacey haciendo su mejor y mas memorable papel. Es una de esas películas que no dejan indiferentes, que hay que ver una vez antes de morir.
  38. Apr 18, 2015
    10
    Sam Mendes accurately expresses the complex, yet simplistic life of the typical American family. His use of subtle lighting and luring music paint the picture of normality and even the mundaneness of the middle class. Bold reds and slow-motion shots break through the cracks to show the turmoil hidden behind the fluff of those red roses.
    It is the ultimate American contradiction of wishing
    Sam Mendes accurately expresses the complex, yet simplistic life of the typical American family. His use of subtle lighting and luring music paint the picture of normality and even the mundaneness of the middle class. Bold reds and slow-motion shots break through the cracks to show the turmoil hidden behind the fluff of those red roses.
    It is the ultimate American contradiction of wishing to be protected and yearning to be free at the same time. This is shown through the lives of the Burnham family: Lester with all his hopes banked in the past, his daughter Jane grasping for the future, and the perfect materialized wife in Carolyn. They are each trapped by the roles society has forced upon them or that they have forced on themselves. Mendes asks, is it possible to have the comfort of safety and also maintain the thrill of freedom?
    Maybe the fault some find in "American Beauty" is that it does not answer any questions, but proposes many. It presents a story that is as complicated to the viewer as it is to the characters within it. It does not claim to have answers because it knows there are no clear-cut solutions in life.
    Expand
  39. Apr 25, 2015
    9
    Over the years, many films have taken a dark look at the supposedly perfect ideal of a white picket fence, a little house, and a nuclear family. For many, the suburban life is the American dream. For others, however, it can turn into a twisted nightmare of unfulfilled desires, repressed needs, and shattered hopes. Because of the necessity to keep up appearances, a serene facade oftenOver the years, many films have taken a dark look at the supposedly perfect ideal of a white picket fence, a little house, and a nuclear family. For many, the suburban life is the American dream. For others, however, it can turn into a twisted nightmare of unfulfilled desires, repressed needs, and shattered hopes. Because of the necessity to keep up appearances, a serene facade often conceals a breeding ground for dysfunction, anxiety, and hypocrisy. Directors like David Lynch have made this their playground. Lynch in particular delights in depicting the root causes of social decay in suburbia - and he does it by autopsy. American Beauty is not as dark as a Lynch project, since it allows for small moments of redemption, but it mines the same general territory.

    If there's a rule in American cinema that all families not named Brady must be dysfunctional, then American Beauty does nothing to violate it. Most teenagers think their parents are strange, but, in the case of Jane Burnham (Thora Birch, whose largest previous big screen role was in Alaska), this is as much a state of reality as it is a state of mind. Her father, Lester (Kevin Spacey), is suffering through a mid-life crisis. At the age of 42, he has become apathetic to everything. "Both my wife and daughter think I'm this gigantic loser," he confesses at one point, "And they're right. I have lost something. I didn't always feel this sedated." Meanwhile, Jane's mother, Carolyn (Annette Bening), places such value on status that she has turned into a "bloodless, money-grubbing freak" who has no time for any form of intimacy. Her creed: "You cannot count on anyone except yourself." She and Lester continue in their dead marriage for their daughter's sake and so they'll look normal to the outside world. In a moment of clarity, Lester admits, "Our marriage is just for show - a commercial for how normal we are, when we're anything but."

    American Beauty is the first feature film directed by Sam Mendes, who has an extensive background in theater, but displays a sureness that many veteran filmmakers are unable to match. At times evoking elements of Todd Solondz' controversial Happiness and Ang Lee's brilliant The Ice Storm, American Beauty weds compelling drama with black comedy. The movie is character-driven, but the three protagonists are so expertly developed that we are drawn to them for the entire two hour running time. Spacey, Bening, and Birch all give the kinds of top-notch performances that deserve (but do not always get) consideration at Oscar time. Spacey's Lester may be American Beauty's narrator, but, through a low-key portrayal that conveys all the angst and confusion of a particularly bad teenage experience, Birch makes Jane the film's emotional focal point.

    If there's a weakness in American Beauty, it's in the way the story is structured. Spacey's voiceover narrative effectively kills a great deal of narrative tension when, during an opening scene, he reveals the film's ending. This approach is often forgivable if there's a compelling dramatic reason for it, but that isn't the case here. In fact, the use of the voiceover allows American Beauty to close with more exposition than is necessary. We don't need to be told, for example, that one of the film's points is that we should learn to savor every moment of life and to see all the hidden beauty the world has to offer.

    Mendes and cinematographer Conrad L. Hall add some wonderful camera work, especially when it comes to close-ups. In most films, we rarely notice this kind of shot because it is used indiscriminately. However, in American Beauty, it serves the definite purpose of offering insight into a character's mindset. There are many close-ups in this film, and few (if any) are used for the banal purpose of varying shot selection. And Thomas Newman's dynamic, playful score compliments the picture's effective visual composition.

    American Beauty doesn't trailblaze a path into hitherto untouched cinematic territory, but its presentation of vivid characters in interesting situations makes the story seem fresh. In part because it's not a complete downer and in part because it doesn't cheat the audience, American Beauty is emotionally satisfying. There's a sense of poignancy at the end, but also the feeling that we have been on an incredible trip through the lives and souls of three perfectly-realized characters. In a year that boasts few truly memorable motion pictures, Mendes can stake a claim alongside the likes of Kubrick and Egoyan as one whose cinematic vision both challenges and entertains.
    Expand
Metascore
86

Universal acclaim - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33
  1. 83
    Though excellent in many ways, American Beauty is, finally, an uneasy mix of assured technique and simplistic satire.
  2. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    80
    Kevin Spacey (gives) a truly great performance.
  3. A ruthless dissection of suburban malaise.