American Beauty

1999 ∙ Coming-of-Age Drama ∙ 2h 2min

Rating: [star rating=”4.5″]

It’s still amazing to me that Kevin Spacey directed Albino Alligator, one of the worst movies ever made. Otherwise, this guy has been making such good choices in the past few years, with The Usual Suspects and L.A. Confidential, to mention just a couple. Well, he keeps his streak alive, with this amazing movie that keeps you talking well after it’s over. I can’t really put into words exactly what I loved about it. I mean, it’s got flavors of Election, the obviousLolita angle, with just a hint of the Phoebe Kates pool scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Again we have the group of suburbanite losers who think theirs are the only problems in the world. Dysfunction is the name of the game. I’ve always thought Annette Bening was a little stiff and stand-offish in her roles, but she really shines in this movie as the neurotic, neat-freak real estate broker wife of Kevin Spacey. Sure, she botches a couple exchanges here and there, but her overall performance was terrific. So why did I like this movie? The film makes you think. . . think about what it means to live inside this world where we take our lives for granted, the little things, the big things, the everyday things. We think about how we can be more than ordinary, escape our little lives and take advantage of the few years we have on this planet. This is time that too many people spend feeling sorry for themselves, feeling insecure and living lies. In fact, the only truly happy people in this movie are Spacey’s gay neighbors, Jim and Jim, who live without shame, and, when faced with their homophobic Marine neighbor, have a pleasant comeback to his taunts, without a trace of bitterness or hatred. Anyway, the film was smart and well filmed, although there are a couple Spacey dream sequences that bring this movie from a five star movie to four and a half. Just go see it, I guarantee you’ll like it.