Entertainment Weekly

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

American Beauty

Posted on

Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, ...
Lorey Sebastian

American Beauty

type:
Movie
Current Status:
In Season
mpaa:
R
runtime:
121 minutes
performer:
Annette Bening, Kevin Spacey, Scott Bakula, Wes Bentley, Thora Birch, Chris Cooper, Peter Gallagher, Allison Janney, Sam Robards, Mena Suvari
director:
Sam Mendes
Producers:
Jinks/Cohen Company
author:
Alan Ball
genre:
Drama, Comedy

We gave it a B+

No one, it seems, can say exactly what this movie is, but at least Bening thinks she knows what it’s not. ”It’s not a polite family drama, it’s not a comedy, it’s not sentimental,” she says. ”It doesn’t fall into any of those genres.”

Alan Ball’s script, which has been described as ”The Ice Storm” laced with the darkest of humor, involves an emotionally torn middle-aged man (Spacey) with a wife (Bening) who’s cheating on him, a daughter (Birch) who hates him, and a Pandora’s box of forbidden fantasies that include lusting after his daughter’s slightly overdeveloped high school friend (Suvari). ”I believe [Steven Spielberg] read it on a Saturday night, and on Monday morning he said, ‘Let’s make this movie and not change a word,’ ” says Spacey.

Much of the film’s early buzz centers on newcomer Bentley, the 20-year-old actor who beat out 25 of Hollywood’s more established young actors for the role of Ricky, the camera-toting neighbor obsessed with filming everything he sees. Also notable is first-time feature director Mendes, the Brit who heated up Broadway with his radical revival of ”Cabaret” and last season’s hot ticket, ”The Blue Room” (with Nicole Kidman). ”The first few days I shot not very good,” says Mendes. ”In fact, I’d go so far as to say [it was] crap. But it got better.”

Indeed. With ”American Beauty” garnering Oscar expectations, you can expect some memorable footage, including a scene in which Bening’s character wakes to the sounds of her husband masturbating. ”I don’t know how many takes we did,” Spacey recalls. ”Because Annette giggled constantly.” BUZZ FACTOR: 8

Comments