"A disturbing, searing and painfully funny look at American life at the end of the 20th century…"

"Lester, brilliantly played by (Kevin) Spacey…"

"…‘American Beauty’ is…both touching and hilarious, agonizing and amusing. It hovers constantly between a laugh and a tear, often prompting both responses in the same moment."

"This movie is an absolute gem, unlike any film we’ve seen this year or, for that matter, any other."

"These characters continually defy any and all presumptions, which is one of the many outstanding things about Alan Ball’s utterly original screenplay."

"Director Sam Mendes…making his feature film debut here, gives the movie a stunning visual fluidity, full of knockout imagery and artful subtlety."

"Mendes’ genius is also evident in the performances…of his cast: Spacey completely convincing as the Everyman, thoroughly winning with his pitch-perfect comic timing; Birch, a revelation as the vulnerable daughter; and Bentley, devastating, playing the lonely boy next door."

"…out of the heartbreak come scenes of bracing comedy, exhilaration and, finally, hope."

"…one of the most compelling, surprising and enjoyable cinematic voyages we’ve seen in quite some time."