American Beauty: Synopsis

DreamWorks SKG is proud to present a bold new look at suburban angst, American Beauty. The dark comedy marks the feature film directorial debut of Sam Mendes, the award-winning theatre director best known for The Blue Room, the hit London play that recently moved to Broadway starring Nicole Kidman, and the Tony Award-winning revival of Cabaret.

Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects) and Oscar nominee Annette Bening (The Grifters) lead a cast that includes Chris Cooper, Peter Gallagher, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, Allison Janney, Scott Bakula, and Sam Robards.

Television writer Alan Ball's first produced screenplay introduces us to the chaotic world found on the tree-lined street of Robin Hood Trail, Anytown, U.S.A. Provoked by forbidden passions, Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) decides to make a few changes in his rut of a life, changes that are less midlife crisis than adolescence reborn. The freer he gets, the happier he gets, which is even more maddening to his wife, Carolyn (Annette Bening), and daughter Jane (Thora Birch)--especially when he turns his lustful gaze toward Jane's friend, the sultry Angela (Mena Suvari). Carolyn responds by focusing her attention on real estate colleague Buddy Kane (Peter Gallagher).

Compounding the chaos on Robin Hood Trail is the arrival next door of an equally turbulent family: strict Marine Col. Fitts (Chris Cooper), his vacant wife, Barbara (Allison Janney), and his distant son, Ricky (Wes Bentley), who soon develops a fascination with Jane.

The creative team behind Mendes and Ball's first film effort includes Academy Award-winning cinematographer Conrad Hall (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), production designer Naomi Shohan, Oscar-nominated costume designer Julie Weiss (Twelve Monkeys), editor Tarik Anwar, and three-time Oscar-nominated composer Thomas Newman (The Shawshank Redemption). The film is produced by Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, with Stan Wlodkowski serving as the coproducer.

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