Ben Daniels’s review published on Letterboxd:
I DON'T KNOW HOW I HAVEN'T SEEN THIS UNTIL NOW.
THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING FILM. Every issue in life I feel passionate about is dealt with here. Commercialism, conformity, materialism, happiness, greed, the American Dream, beauty, homosexuality, acceptance of others, traditionalism, false images and more. There is so much content in this film, seeing it once is merely reading the blurb on the back.
Not to mention, one of my favourite actors, Kevin Spacey is bloody fantastic here. He's amazing. How does he manage so somehow restrained yet so free and happy? He feels completely believable as the initial Lester, and as the changed Lester. THAT is skill, to not only play technically two completely different characters, but demonstrate the transition effectively.
In fact, the whole cast is just wonderful and each character is absolutely vital to the story, nobody feels added, out of place or unnatural. IT IS PERFECTLY DONE.
This reminds me of Only God Forgives in a way, that each character represents a mindset, a way of life. Except here, they're actually people simultaneously. THAT IS SCRIPTWRITING AT IT'S GREATEST. Alan Ball has actually managed to write two movies in one. One, is a story of a middle aged man uncomfortable with his life and his family. The other, is a story of life and various themes and the occurrences in everyday modern living.
As an aspiring screenwriter, American Beauty is one of the greatest creations I have ever seen and I could only hope to ever write anything of this sheer quality. It's fucking strange, but then again, if you look at it, so is life, in a way.
Right now, I'm sitting down writing about a movie I've just seen on a fantastical, man-made creation called the computer while it's twenty to ten in the evening and I'm eating pineapple chunks. Think about that shit. That's what this is about. Take a step back and have a look. Life is more beautiful than we give it credit for, and we should really be happier than we are, especially us glum Brits. Cheer up.