Published by Cinema Experts
"I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn't a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time... For me, it was lying on my back at Boy Scout camp, watching falling stars... And yellow leaves, from the maple trees, that lined my street... Or my grandmother's hands, and the way her skin seemed like paper... And the first time I saw my cousin Tony's brand new Firebird... And Janie... And Janie... And... Carolyn. I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday."
In my opinion, the best film of 1999, a dark comedy/drama that revelead two new cinema genius, Alan Ball as a writer and Sam Mendes as a director. Both received an Oscar for their work. A film that explores themes of romantic and paternal love, freedom, beauty, self-liberation, existentialism, the search for happiness, and family against the backdrop of modern American suburbia. Kevin Spacey (another oscar-winning, for Best Actor in a Leading Role), plays Lester Burnham, a man on the brink of a mid-life crisis, who suddenly becomes obsessed with one of his teenage daughters friends played by Mena Suvari. Because of this obssesion, Lester begins to return to his youth: quits his jobs and starts working in a fast food restaurant, buys a new Firebird and even starts buying drugs... His daughter (Thora Birch) is, as Lester tells us in the beginning of the film , "a typical teenager. Angry, insecure, confused...". And his wife Caroline (Annette Bening, nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role but lost to Hillary Swank) has an obsession of her own, her public appearance. Life starts off on a downer for the Burnhams and their new neighbours the Fitts despite their lives looking good from the outside. As life begins to improve (with most of the main characters finding what they think is love or new relationships) it soon all comes crashing down in the climactic final day.
The writing is nothing short of brilliant and made even more amazing by knowing that it comes from a first time feature film screen writer Alan Ball (who had had years of prior experience writing TV sitcoms - not that you'd be able to guess from the tone of this film). The directing is on a par with the writing and Sam Mendes manages to get some brilliant performances from the great cast, who are all faultless. No doubt Mendes' theatre directing past played a huge part in directing the actors so well. Another person worthy of a mention is the late director of photography Conrad L. Hall, another one of the five oscar recipients for this film.All the elements in this film gel perfectly together to make one superb masterpiece. Not one person, either cast or crew, steals this film or does anymore than anyone else to make this film what it is. Truly an ensemble effort. 10/10