KENNETH TURAN LA Times

"Stars, Story Shine in an Unsettling, Provocative Film." (Sub-heading, not in body of review)

"Unsettling, unnerving, undefinable…"

"Unsettling, unnerving, undefinable, ‘American Beauty’…a quirky and disturbing take on modern American life energized by bravura performances from Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening, ‘Beauty’ is a blood-chilling dark comedy with unexpected moments of both fury and warmth, a strange, brooding and very accomplished film that sets us back on our heels from its opening frames."

"…provocative debut for director Sam Mendes…"

"Whenever a film is this distinctive, it invariably starts with the writing."

"Scenes ambush us out of nowhere, revealing both flash-floods of fury and frustration to powerful to contain…"

"…the quality of the acting is especially crucial, and it’s hard to overstate…how faultlessly the actors handle them…these characters are all inhabited completely and convincingly."

"(Wes) Bentley, in a haunting role…brings a commanding but low-key intensity and intimacy to Ricky Fitts that never promises more than it can deliver."

"…Spacey’s power is finally the energy that drives this film…"

"…one of the great names of cinematography, the eight-time Oscar nominated Conrad Hall…gives the film a dreamlike quality, set off by the right touch of cool, composed reality."

"…there’s definitely a hell of a picture here."