TODD McCARTHY Variety

"‘American Beauty’ is a real American original. Multi-layered, bracingly resourceful and tweaked to push its many brash ideas to the edge and beyond, this independent-minded feature represents a stunning card of introduction for two cinematic freshmen: screenwriter Alan Ball and director Sam Mendes."

"Consistently provocative and devilishly amusing…"

"Ball…has composed a script as fresh and distinctive as any produced in the States in recent memory."

"…the dialogue is tart and the characters are well and deeply drawn, endowed with an inner life that allows the viewer to understand their often rash and unpredictable behavior."

"Mendes, the hottest young British theater director of recent years…displays a very sure hand in his first film."

"…Conrad L. Hall, who is unsurpassed in his ability to augment the meaning of the material he films by finding its perfect visual correlative."

"The ensemble of actors here could not be better."

"(Spacey’s) handling of innuendo, subtle sarcasm and blunt talk is scintillating, but he trumps these aces with the genuine feeling with which he endows Lester’s efforts…"

"Bening, perfectly cast as the perfect wife, goes well beyond the expected in such a role…"

"…Bentley is sensational…"

"Cooper is chillingly convincing…"

"Janney stands out…"