American Beauty

Review Date:
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Alan Ball
Producers: Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks
Kevin Spacey
Annette Bening
Thora Birch
A husband bored with his life and family suddenly wakes up and smells the coffee when he “falls for” one of his daughter’s slutty teenage friends. A wife, bent on succeeding in her career, drinks a lot and “falls for” the town’s biggest real-estate hotshot. A daughter, feeling awkward and freaky, “falls for” a bizarre neighbor kid who likes to videotape almost everything he sees (So that he could remember it!). In the end, will any of them really “fall” or find exactly what they are looking for?
If you are the type of person who appreciates every minute of your life, then you may just enjoy this film to its fullest potential. If you are the type of person who doesn’t appreciate every minute of your life or the people around you, then you may just need to see this film, and learn to appreciate its full potential.

This film is original in story, interesting in premise, acted sharply by its well-rounded cast, directed in a manner made all the more absorbing, and edgy and humorous enough to keep me going, despite some pseudo-existential stuff floating around from time to time. Before I go on any further, let it be said that an actor by the name of Kevin Spacey rocks! Okay, now that I got that off my chest, let’s go on. Many are comparing this film to the highly praised 1997 film ICE STORM (5/10), but despite some general similarities, I found the latter film to have very little surface and too much esoteric depth, while this one delivers a fresh, livelier outlook on its subjects, despite their obvious miseries.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some moments in this film when I did find myself rolling a little of the eyes, especially when it concerned scenes between the weird (A little too strange for my taste) neighbor kid, and the daughter. But whenever Spacey took center stage, man stand back, cause that bastard sucked me right back into the thick of things! Having said that, this film is definitely an “adult” film to be savored by people who are in touch with themselves and appreciate a frank, sometimes brutally honest, look at their pathetic and drab existence. I personally enjoyed the strong performances by the cast, especially Spacey and the friend of his daughter (And yes, I wanted to nail her also!), the finale, which seemed like it was going one way but then kept curving back every now and again, and the dark humor, which filled many of the scenes. Certainly an overly valiant effort from first time director Sam Mendes, who seems to have a solid grasp on the pulse of characters going through varied difficulties in their lives. Admittedly, I went into this film with mucho expectations, so don’t take my nitpicking too seriously. Check it out for yourself and see how you feel. It may just help you appreciate certain aspects of your life much better. Just look closer… (Sorry, but I had to!).

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian