American Beauty (1999)
A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.
"American Beauty" is a 1999 American romantic drama film written by Alan Ball and directed by Sam Mendes in his feature film directorial debut. The film stars Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham, a 42-year-old advertising executive who has a midlife crisis when he becomes infatuated with his teenage daughter's best friend, Angela (Mena Suvari). Annette Bening co-stars as Lester's materialistic wife, Carolyn, and Thora Birch plays their insecure daughter, Jane. Wes Bentley, Chris Cooper, and Allison Janney are also featured. The film is described by academics as a satire of American middle-class notions of beauty and personal satisfaction; analysis has focused on the film's explorations of romantic and paternal love, sexuality, beauty, materialism, self-liberation, and redemption.
Ball began writing "American Beauty" as a play in the early 1990's, partly inspired by the media circus around the Amy Fisher trial in 1992. He shelved the play after realizing the story would not work on stage. After several years as a television screenwriter, Ball revived the idea in 1997 when attempting to break into the film industry. The rewritten script had a cynical outlook that was influenced by Ball's frustrating tenures writing for several sitcoms. Producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen took "American Beauty" to the fledgling DreamWorks studio, which bought the script for $250,000, outbidding several other production entities. DreamWorks financed the $15 million production and served as its North American distributor. American Beauty marked theater director Mendes' film debut; courted after his successful productions of the musicals "Oliver!" and "Cabaret".
Release date: September 15, 1999 (US)
Director: Sam Mendes
Screenplay by: Alan Ball
Music by: Thomas Newman
Cinematography: Conrad L. Hall
Edited by: Tariq Anwar, Christopher Greenbury
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch, Allison Janney, Peter Gallagher, Mena Suvari, Wes Bentley, Chris Cooper, Wes Bentley
Distributed by: DreamWorks Pictures
* © 1999 - Dreamworks