American Beauty

I watched American Beauty last night with Dreamgirl. I have had this movie on DVD for years, but I have not seen it since it was in the theater. I remember loving it in the theater. It had been so long that I forgot what I loved about it. There are a handful of iconic scenes in that movie. Often I remember the icons and not the movie as a whole.

I have been avoiding rewatching American Beauty. I was worried about it aging poorly. Lots of movies that make a big splash when they come out fall apart over time. I could not remember if American Beauty was specific to that moment in time or not. When Dreamgirl picked it I was curious to watch it again.

I was amazed at how well the movie holds up. I was surprised at how vital the main character of Lester Burnham still seems. The combination of Alan Ball's writing and Kevin Spacey portrayal of this character just makes him seem amazing. If this movie came out today it would still work. It only came out in 1999, but the world feels like a much different place. The movie does a good job not rooting itself in a specific moment in time.

My only problem with this movie is how poorly written the female characters are. The two compelling characters are Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) and Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley). The movie moves around these characters very well. I think all the females are under used. I would have liked Jane Burnham (Thora Birch) and Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari) seem very flat. I would have like to know more about them. They almost seem like devices for the male characters.

If you have not seen this movie in a while it is worth seeing again. This might be the last great movie of the 20th Centry.


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