PETER TRAVERS Rolling Stone

"‘American Beauty,’ a comedy of shocking gravity…"

"'American Beauty' is a triumph of acting, writing and directing…"

"Is the film farce, tragedy, thriller, fantasy, sitcom, skin flick or moral fable? Yes to all of the above."

"Kevin Spacey, in a knockout performance, nails every comic and poignant nuance in the role of Lester Burnham…"

"…Carolyn, acted with go-for-broke intensity by Annette Bening…"

"…(Ball’s) done something extraordinary… His marvel of a screenplay puts flesh on stereotypes and then—testing for signs of humanity—pricks them until they bleed."

"…British director Sam Mendes orchestrates with exquisite control and fluid grace. Mendes makes a stunning debut in films…"

"Mendes’ skill with actors is abundantly evident in ‘American Beauty.’"

"(Thora) Birch…glimmers with grown-up radiance…"

"Newcomer Wes Bentley emerges as a major find…"

"You expect Mendes to shine at dialogue and performance. What’s astonishing is this theater man’s visual sophistication."

"It’s the life behind things that ‘American Beauty’ catches as Mendes whips the audience around from humor to horror to something poetic and humane. The result is the kind of artful defiance that Hollywood is usually too timid to deliver: a jolting comedy that makes you laugh till it hurts."

"…hilarious and heartbreaking…"

"Great script. Great directing. Great acting. Great movie."