Cassie's Movie Reviews
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Categories this film falls into:

Dark Comedy
Just a Damn Fine Film

american beauty (1999)

Lester Burnham is having a mid-life crisis. It's a story of self-discovery.

Sam Mendes

Alan Ball

Conrad L. Hall

Kevin Spacey
Annette Bening
Thora Birch
Wes Bentley
Mena Suvari
Peter Gallagher
Chris Cooper
Allison Janney
Scott Bakula
Sam Robards


American Beauty Poster

This is a film I wish I could see again for the first time - to watch it not knowing what is going to happen - not knowing how all the characters end up. I remember walking out of the theater that first time in awe. My friend and I just rode home in the car marveling at what a bizarre gem it is. It took some time to soak it up. Since then I've seen it more times than I want to count (we're getting into double digits here), and yet I still am not tired of it. I enjoy all of the characters and enjoy watching their journeys. I don't have this relationship with a lot of films. When I leave the theater, I am happy. I can't help smiling. This movie leaves me with a sense of hope - with a feeling that life really is . . . great.

Carolyn preparing for her open houseThis is a movie of scenes and one-liners. I will admit that. It could just be some guy's wet dream of all the things he wishes a movie could have - but I don't care. I like the scenes and I like the one-liners that send me rolling down the aisle. And it's not like they're put in there just to get a laugh - they work as part of the dialogue - which, to be honest, is pretty rare.

THINGS I LOVEDinner with the Burnhams

-KEVIN SPACEY. Period. This is such an amazing performance which just goes to support my own personal theory that he is one of the most talented actors performing today. His range and talent are exceptional.
-Annette Bening. She is fantastic in this role. I really can't imagine anyone else doing it.
-The music. I like the score music (the fantasy music, etc.) and I also really liked the use of 1970s classic rock. It really adds a lot to the film - and I like how it's not all just background - it's incorporated into the story.
-I like the plastic bag. I do. I've had those moments.
-The use of reflections. I'm not trying to comment on what is supposed to be meant by "reflections" or anything. Some of the shots are just really cool - Lester driving and singing in his car and the reflection of the Col. Fitts in the rainbuildings on the windshield; Ricky filming Jane's small smile in her mirror; the reflection of Ricky's zipper in Lester's blood - just to name a few.
-Constant progression of the story. One of the things that impressed me about this film is that it is constantly moving forward. The characters are not rehashing the same thing over and over. Their lives are moving and they are growing and changing. I love that.

FAVORITE MOMENTSCarolyn discussing roses with Jim

-The entire opening monologue by Lester Burnham - all of the scenes - from the shower to Lester watching Carolyn cut roses (one of the best shots is of her inspecting a rose she has cut) to the car ride to work.
-Carolyn's open house. When she closes the blinds and starts her crying and reprimanding. It's priceless.
-Lester's face in the fantasy scene at the basketball game. If lust has a face, it's here.
-Angela on the ceiling with the rose petals falling on Lester's face. It really is a magical, surreal scene.
Lester and Ricky get caught-When the Jims welcome the Fitts to the neighborhood.
-Lester at Carolyn's real estate function "put a little more in there cowboy."
-Lester and Ricky smoking out back. I'm still laughing with them.
-Lester looking for his weights and then his initial naked workout session.
-Carolyn catching Lester jerking off in bed.
-Lester quitting his job.
-Carolyn and "the King" at the hotel. My god, this is hilarious.
-Lester driving after quitting job - singing - the really cool I RULE!thing here are the buildings reflected in the windshield. It's very cool.
-Dinner where Lester explodes.
-The "I rule" scene.
-The drive thru.
-Carolyn screaming in the SUV.
-The framing of THE scene between Lester and Angela - his big hairy arms and her tiny body - it's fantastic.
The red door of the house filmed through the rain and reflected in the sidewalk. Wow.
-Lester and Angela talking in the kitchen after Angela and Janetheir big moment - it's very caring and real and it's what brings the whole movie together for me - "I'm great".
-Lester's death - beautifully filmed - the reflection and his smile; Ricky's zipper reflecting as he squats down; the blood on the table - great staging of this scene.
-Lester's final monologue and the images that go with it.

QUOTESWe have a very healthy relationship.

-I get exhausted just watching her. - Lester
-For you Brad, I got five. - Lester
-I'm missing the James Bond marathon on TNT. - Lester
-You know, I watched you very closely. You didn't screw up once! - Carolyn
I am happy honey. - Lester
-I think you just became my personal hero. -Lester
-It's a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself. - Lester
-I want to look good nakedWould you like Smiley Sauce with that?. - Lester
-You're one to talk, you bloodless, money-grubbing freak. - Lester
-Fuck me your majesty! - Carolyn
-I'm looking for the least possible amount of responsibility. - Lester
-We've met before, but something tells me you're going to remember me this time. -Lester
-I'm great. - Lester