American Beauty | 1999

Directed by: Sam Mendes

American Beauty Poster

Main Plot

A sexually frustrated suburban father has a mid-life crisis after becoming infatuated with his daughter's best friend.


  • Kevin Spacey's character in American Beauty is a middle-aged man who becomes infatuated with his daughter's friend, leading to a series of events unraveling his life. Kevin Spacey
  • Annette Bening's character, Carolyn, is a materialistic and controlling wife whose unhappiness contributes to the unraveling of the plot. Annette Bening
  • Thora Birch's character, Jane Burnham, is the angsty teenage daughter of the main character and plays a pivotal role in the film's exploration of suburban dysfunction. Thora Birch

Ending Explained

In the final moments of American Beauty, Lester Burnham is shot and killed by his neighbor, Colonel Fitts. As he lies dying, Lester reflects on the beauty of life and experiences a moment of clarity. The film then shows various characters dealing with the aftermath of his death, with some finding redemption and others continuing to struggle. The closing shot reveals a plastic bag floating gracefully in the wind, symbolizing the fragile and transient nature of existence.

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Sam Mendes Kevin Spacey Annette Bening Thora Birch