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Examining 'American Beauty' at 15: A masterpiece, or a farce?

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http://insidemovies.ew.com/2014/09/15/american-beauty-15th-anniversary/

I never quite understood the huge backlash this film keeps getting. I still think it's a great film! It's themes and style still makes it quite relevant today. It may not be the intense social critique it was made out to be, but I still find it quite effective.

So what about you guys? Do you find it overrated? Thoughts? Discuss!

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It's an old movie, KM, ... but it's great! It's written by Alan Ball of Six Feet Under and True Blood fame. A perfect balance between comedy and drama.

I still need to see Towelhead, a film he written and directed himself. I saw it once in the store, but it was too expensive for a DVD.

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It has some dated topicality in terms of gender issues and so on, but other than that it's a wonderful satire and one of the best films of the 90s, IMO. The 90s was THE decade for satire in films.

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I find it ironic that the article's conversation about the film reveals exactly the kind of uptight moralism that American Beauty makes satire of.

American Beauty is a 90s masterpiece, and a beautiful one at that, with a truly humanistic message of forgiveness, and it's an unusually wise, non-judgemental film for its time. It portrays flawed human beings, and celebrates them as such. Therein lies the beauty (in the film as in life).

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Yeah, it's one of the better American dramas of past 20 years, at least of those made by major studios. Witty, unpatronising and bittersweet.

And, I have to admit, the score has really grown on me over the years. Ave, Newman!

Karol

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There's a great sadness at the heart of "American Beauty". It tries to address universal themes of alienation, self-worth, and community, with likeable, but non-synpathetic characters.

Conrad Hall's (absolutely essential Panavision) photography is the best I have seen in a very long time.

The performances are uniformally excellent, while the seething/guilty core of Chris Cooper's Sgt. Fitz is a wonder to behold. Also Alison Janney says so much without saying much at all.

This is a great examination of American paranoia; a pre-9/11 post 9/11 film.

I always put this as the (more acceptable) flip-side to "Happiness".

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I was actually about to mention Solondz' "Happiness"! I agree completely about the link between the two, although Solondz pushes the boundaries even further, and insists on humanity and dignity even for someone who truly does commit an awful crime (unlike American Beauty's main protagonist).

What I love about both films, and find very refreshing, is their amorality (not immorality), and unwillingness to judge.

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I was actually about to mention Solondz' "Happiness"! I agree completely about the link between the two, although Solondz pushes the boundaries even further, and insists on humanity and dignity even for someone who truly does commit an awful crime (unlike American Beauty's main protagonist).

What I love about both films, and find very refreshing, is their amorality (not immorality), and unwillingness to judge.

THIS!

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Solondz's HAPPINESS (along with the rest of his work) puts Alan Ball's simplified, naive spiel to shame. That said, Tom Newman's score is wonderful and like with ROAD TO PERDITION and REVOLUTIONARY, I prefer to listen to in isolation, forgetting about the (disappointing) film.

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Disliked the movie, it's just a bunch of american clichés... The closeted gay... pfff, that killed me.

For me the strength of the film is between the lines. The satire alone would just be a satire. It wouldn't be as memorable.

What I love about the film are the aesthetics. The cinematography and the score are both very minimalist. Both add so much to the film.

It has become one of my favourite films. Every time I watch it again... It still hasn't lost any of its value.

On the surface it might appear to be just another 90s flick. But the subtext and the way that the film draws in the viewer make it so worthwhile to me.

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Disliked the movie, it's just a bunch of american clichés... The closeted gay... pfff, that killed me.

For me the strength of the film is between the lines. The satire alone would just be a satire. It wouldn't be as memorable.

What I love about the film are the aesthetics. The cinematography and the score are both very minimalist. Both add so much to the film.

It has become one of my favourite films. Every time I watch it again... It still hasn't lost any of its value.

On the surface it might appear to be just another 90s flick. But the subtext and the way that the film draws in the viewer make it so worthwhile to me.

I agree. Easily one of the best flicks of the '90s. A lot of things come wonderfully together: Alan Ball's writing, Sam Mendes' direction, the characters, the acting, the use of the score, ... everything actually. It's a movie with a high revisiting value.

Alex

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Disliked the movie, it's just a bunch of american clichés... The closeted gay... pfff, that killed me.

For me the strength of the film is between the lines. The satire alone would just be a satire. It wouldn't be as memorable.

What I love about the film are the aesthetics. The cinematography and the score are both very minimalist. Both add so much to the film.

It has become one of my favourite films. Every time I watch it again... It still hasn't lost any of its value.

On the surface it might appear to be just another 90s flick. But the subtext and the way that the film draws in the viewer make it so worthwhile to me.

I agree. Easily one of the best flicks of the '90s. A lot of things come wonderfully together: Alan Ball's writing, Sam Mendes' direction, the characters, the acting, the use of the score, ... everything actually. It's a movie with a high revisiting value.

Alex

The aesthetics?

Roses overs boobs doesn't appeal to me, sorry guys!

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Aesthetically the film is stunning, thanks to the late Conrad Hall. That said, I find the writing glib and sensationalistic, designed to shock the audience but not let them think. About as a intellectually fraudulent as your average Michael Moore doc. See Towelhead for another equally noxious (re)take on American suburbia.

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Aesthetically the film is stunning, thanks to the late Conrad Hall. That said, I find the writing glib and sensationalistic, designed to shock the audience but not let them think. About as a intellectually fraudulent as your average Michael Moore doc. See Towelhead for another equally noxious (re)take on American suburbia.

Great thing that this movie shocked the average american, but as I gay canadian man, I saw in this movie all the american clichés about sex and repressed homosexuality.

:pukeface:

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I'm sad you didn't get this brilliant movie just because of this gay issue.

Only thing I don't like in this masterful film is Annette Bening's performance, it's way too much. Fortunately not Meryl-Streep-kind-of too much but stil.

But maybe Sam made it on purpose, to balance the whole opera, clever man he is.

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