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The Diva's
"American Beauty" Review


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American Beauty (1999)
Rated R; running time of 119 minutes
Written by: Alan Ball
Directed by: Sam Mendez
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, Peter Gallagher, Chris Cooper, Allison Janney, Scott Bakula, Sam Robards
Genre: Drama


The Digest

Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is 42 years old and on the edge of a mid-life crisis. He is being downsized out of his job, his wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) is more concerned with becoming successful than being a wife and mother. And his teenage daughter, Jane (Thora Birch), hates him. He is consumed by a sad life that he doesn't want. To top it all off, he has the hots for Jane's best friend Angela. The fast little heffa knows it and flirts with him constantly. Enter the new neighbors; a retired army colonel, his practically catatonic wife and their weird son. Their son has this obsession with video taping people without their permission. He takes a liking to Jane and eventually they begin a romantic friendship. Somewhere along the line, we find out that Ricky was institutionalized for drug use. It didn't cure him because not only does he still smoke weed, he deals it too. He and Lester become friends and before you know it, Lester is smoking dope and taking back control of his life.

And this is the beginning of the end of Lester. He blackmails his boss and gets a huge severance package, quits his job and starts flipping burgers at the local burger joint. He sells his Camry and buys a muscle car. He begins lifting weights, drinking beer and smoking on a daily basis. His daughter still hates him and now his wife despises him. He even goes as far as to masturbate while his wife sleeps next to him all the while he is thinking about that hussy Angela.

Meanwhile next door we find out that Ricky's father is extremely homophobic and abusive. No wonder the wife checked out. He is under the mistaken impression that Lester is gay. This is reinforced by the fact that Lester doesn't care that his wife is having an affair and by a videotape that Ricky shot. All of this sets off a chain of tragic events, but I won't spoil it for you.

The Dish

This movie was disturbing. It will likely become a cinematic classic and I'm sure people will be talking about it for years to come. It's a good movie, but a sad one. Everyone gives powerhouse performances and I'm sure Oscar nominations will be abundant next year. Kevin Spacey as usual doesn't disappoint. The surprises are Annette Bening and Mena Suvari as Angela. Annette is able to convincingly portray a woman teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown,going as far as slapping herself across the face in order to pull herself together. Mena plays Angela as someone who on the outside appears to be a worldly young woman that wants to model, but deep down inside is terrified of being thought of as ordinary.

It's also a wake up call for white America. The media has taken great pains to expose all that is wrong in minority community, yet covering up the dysfunction in white communities. This movie deals with drug abuse, drug dealing, teenage sex, adultery, physical abuse, emotional abuse, gun control, violence, and homophobia. The only thing it didn't touch on was sexism and racism.

The Directive

A must see for middle america.

If you enjoy "films" then rush right out. Otherwise put it on your "must rent" list.

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Copyright Kamal "The Diva" Larsuel-Ulbricht, 1999
ICQ: 8690410

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More 3 Black Chicks...™ review(s) for this week:
(movies released on 10/01/99):

The Diva's reviews:
Three Kings | American Beauty

Bams' reviews:
American Beauty

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