"American Beauty" is the story of Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey), a man unhappy in his home life, unsettled with the prospect of growing old and disenchanted with his career. Neither his wife, Carolyn (Annette Benning) nor his daughter, Jane (Thora Birch) respect him and his neighbors don't even know who he is. In short, Lester is a man swimming on the rim of a mid-life crisis. But the tide begins to turn in his favor when Lester decides to throw caution to the wind, blackmail his bosses and collect a hefty buy out settlement. Of course, Lester's new found independence does not sit well with Carolyn, who prides herself on being in charge of everyone's lives. To relieve her angst, she takes up with rival real estate agent, Buddy Kane (Peter Gallagher) while Jane attempts a misguided elopement with her strange boyfriend, Ricky Fitts (Wes Bentley). Of course all this upset leaves Lester free and clear to pursue a relationship with the high school trollop and Jane's best friend, Angela (Mena Suvari). What is so incredibly compelling about Sam Mendes' masterpiece of reflection, is not so much the way all these lives intersect on a crossroads ultimately doomed to destruction, but how ably the director has managed to capture a slice of the decline and fall of America's constitutional motto of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
The DVD transfer does a fine job of capturing the stylized color scheme. Colors are rich, bold and nicely balanced. Contrast levels are bang on. Blacks are deep and solid. There is a hint of pixelization that is more obvious during the darker scenes, but it does not distract from your viewing enjoyment. Fine detail is fully realized. Occasionally there is a hint of edge enhancement but again, it is not terribly obtrusive. The audio is 5.1 and delivers a very deep, rich bass, particularly in the music tracks. An audio commentary, featurette and stills gallery round out the limited extras on this disc.