Is American Beauty really as good as you may have heard? Unfortunately not. The hype that surrounded this film in 1999 made people go and see it. There was also considerable hype surrounding Anette Bening's performance. Let's just say her performance was okay, nothing spectacular.
American Beauty is a good, but over-rated film.
But if you can be a little less knee-jerk and not shut off all rational thought when confronted with what's disturbingly familiar, you may also find that the film is genuinely, voraciously amusing, and directed with such breathtaking flair that Spacey's bravura performance seems like a career-defining one.
Beneath the surface of all the seeming pettiness in our daily idiosynchrasies, the theme points out, is an entire world of such simple elegance that chortles to be seen and heard, but is neither recognized nor heeded to.
An interesting visual device in the film is the use of windows. Not just a use, but a splurge, come to think of it. Almost everything important happens in front of, around, or through windows. Could this be a metaphor perhaps for self-examination, for viewing one's life from the outside?
What I do not understand is why most films in this genre (Ice Storm, Ordinary People) end with a dramatically tragic finale. Does it take a shattering turn of events to break everyone out of their daily reverie? Something to think about.
Any rate, long story short: an evocative gem you need to own.