login | register |

American Beauty

Look Closer 

Year: 1999 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 18 Cert – Not suitable for under 18s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Sam Mendes 
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari  
An image from American Beauty

Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is a man sinking further and further into a hopeless depression, but after falling in lust with his daughter’s cheerleader friend (Mena Suvari), he finally snaps and decides to seek happiness over the social conformity that rules his life. This film is a masterpiece – an attack on the American dream that will make you think about life and the people around you – with a flawless cast, excellent direction, a well-crafted plot with not a single word wasted, and an incredible score that serves only to further draw you into this world. Words really can’t do this film justice – few films have the power to make such a lasting impression. Simply put, this is one of the most beautiful pieces of cinema you will ever see, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Reece Goodall


Lester Burnham (Spacey) is going through a midlife crisis: he hates his job, his daughter thinks he's a looser, his wife is having an affair and he's having fantasises about his daughter's best friend. The film gradually unravels the apparent normality of the Burnham's sleepy American suburb; where beneath neighbour's smiles are undercurrents of homophobia, drugs and adultery.

This is the film that defined the late nineties. Sam Mendes's first outing as a film director is as beautifully shot as it is brilliantly scripted and acted. Mendes's background as a theatre director is evident in every scene. Spacey gives arguably his best performance as the stressed out Lester Burnham; whether he's telling his boss where to go, smoking a joint or selling fries at a drive through Spacey is in his element playing a man pushed to the edge. Bening is well cast as Lester's frustrated wife and Thora Birch and Wes Bentley create their own kind of weirdness as the young lovers.

Helen Appleyard

More Information | Back to Previous Schedule | This Season  |  BBFC Classification Guidelines

Screenings of this film:

2000/2001 Autumn Term (35mm)
2000/2001 Autumn Term (35mm)
2000/2001 Autumn Term (35mm)
2000/2001 Autumn Term (35mm)
2004/2005 Spring Term (35mm)
2008/2009 Summer Term (35mm)
2008/2009 Summer Term (35mm)
2014/2015 Autumn Term (35mm)