Synopses & Reviews
On a typical suburban street in a typical suburban town,there is an ordinary family living the American dream. But look closer. Lester Burnham's wife, Carolyn, regards him with contempt, his daughter, Jane, thinks he's a loser, and his boss is positioning him for the ax.
Captivated by Jane's sultry high school friend Angela, Lester decides to make a few changes in his mere existence—changes that are less mid-life crisis than a life reclaimed.The freer he gets, the happier he gets, which is even more maddening to his wife and daughter. Complicating matters, Lester finds an unexpected ally in Ricky, the teenage son of the new next-door neighbors, who sees life through a camera lens that has lately focused on Jane Burnham.
In pursuit of his new vision of the American dream, Lester is about to learn that the ultimate freedom comes at the ultimate price.
The 1999 winner of five Academy Awards®, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, American Beauty boasts an accomplished cast led by two-time Academy Award® Best Actor winner Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects) and Oscar® nominee Annette Bening (The Grifters).The ensemble cast also includes Thora Birch (Ghost World),Wes Bentley (The Claim), Mena Suvari (American Pie),Peter Gallagher (Mr. Deeds), Allison Janney (NBC's The West Wing), Scott Bakula (NBC's Quantum Leap), Sam Robards (A.I.: Artificial Intelligence), and Chris Cooper (Adaptation).
American Beauty marks the feature film directorial debut of award-winning theater director Sam Mendes (The Blue Room, Cabaret). The film is produced by Dan Jinks (Nothing to Lose) and Bruce Cohen (The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas) from an original screenplay by Alan Ball (HBO's Six Feet Under). Stan Wlodkowski (One Hour Photo) and Alan Ball are the co-producers.
"This is probably the one of the first scripts I have done that didn't go through a rewrite ... I believe Steven Spielberg read it on a Saturday night, and on Monday morning he said, 'Let's make this movie and not change a word'" -- said Academy Award "RM" winner Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects) in an interview about the movie in which he stars with Oscar "RM" nominee, Annette Bening (The Grifters).
The original screenplay by Alan Ball (TV's Cybill) marks the directorial debut of award-winning theater director Sam Mendes (The Blue Room, Cabaret), who describes the script in this book's introduction as "a highly inventive black comedy ... a mystery story with a genuine final twist ... a kaleidoscopic journey through American suburbia, and a hugely visually articulate one at that".
In the Newmarket Shooting Script format, here is the complete shooting script, a fascinating essay about the script and the making of the film by Sam Mendes, an afterword by screenwriter Alan Ball recalling the genesis of his script, a twelve page photo section, and complete cast and crew credits.
About the Author
Academy Award®-winner for Best Original Screenplay, screenwriter Alan Ball counts American Beauty
as his first produced feature film screenplay. He previously served as co-executive producer and writer for the television series Cybill, and also wrote for the sitcom Grace Under Fire
. He was the creator of the critically acclaimed Golden Globe-winner for Best Television Series Six Feet Under, and served as the HBO series' executive producer.
Sam Mendes made his Oscar®-winning directorial debut with American Beauty. One of today's most celebrated theater directors, Mendes's stage triumphs include the Tony-award winning revival of Cabaret, The Blue Room, the revival of Gypsy, and the original stage production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice. His latest films include Road to Perdition and Jarhead.