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“Smile! You’re at Mr. Smiley’s.”

Lester Burnham

American Beauty

Release Date: October 1, 1999

Academy Award-winner Kevin Spacey plays Lester Burnham, a man in his mid-40s going through an intense midlife crisis; he’s grown cynical and is convinced that he has no reason to go on. Lester’s relationship with his wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) is not a warm one; while on the surface Carolyn strives to present the image that she’s in full control of her life, inside she feels empty and desperate. Their teenage daughter Jane (Thora Birch) is constantly depressed, lacking in self-esteem, and convinced that she’s unattractive. Her problems aren’t helped by her best friend Angela (Mena Suvari), an aspiring model who is quite beautiful and believes that alone makes her a worthwhile person.

Jane isn’t the only one who has noticed that Angela is attractive: Lester has fallen into uncontrollable lust for her, and she becomes part of his drastic plan to change his body and change his life. Meanwhile, next door, Colonel Fitts (Chris Cooper) has spent a lifetime in the Marine Corps and can understand and tolerate no other way of life, which makes life difficult for his son Ricky (Wes Bentley), an aspiring filmmaker and part-time drug dealer who is obsessed with beauty, wherever and whatever it may be.

American Beauty was the directorial film debut for celebrated stage director Sam Mendes, whose work on the film would earn him an Academy Award for Best Director.

Cast & Crew

American Beauty (1999) Movie Poster

Cast & Crew

CAST
  • KEVIN SPACEY,
  • ANNETTE BENING,
  • THORA BIRCH,
  • MENA SUVARI,
  • WES BENTLEY,
  • PETER GALLAGHER,
  • ALLISON JANNEY,
  • CHRIS COOPER,
  • SCOTT BAKULA
DIRECTOR
  • SAM MENDES
SCREENWRITER
  • ALAN BALL
PRODUCERS
  • BRUCE COHEN,
  • DAN JINKS
CINEMATOGRAPHER
  • CONRAD L. HALL
PRODUCTION DESIGN
  • NAOMI SHOHAN
COSTUMES
  • JULIE WEISS
EDITORS
  • TARIQ ANWAR,
  • CHRISTOPHER GREENBURY
COMPOSER
  • THOMAS NEWMAN
AWARDS
  • ACADEMY AWARDS: BEST PICTURE; BEST ACTOR (KEVIN SPACEY); BEST DIRECTOR (SAM MENDES); BEST SCREENPLAY (ALAN BALL); BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY (CONRAD L. HALL)