Written by Alan Ball and directed by Sam Mendes, the black comedy/ psychological drama American Beauty was a movie that made a lot of noise at the time of its release. Securing eight Academy Award nominations for the 2000 Oscar season, the movie managed to bag five of them, including Best Picture, Best Director for Mendes, Best Actor for Kevin Spacey, Best Original Screenplay for Ball, and Best Cinematography for Conrad L. Hall.
But given the storyline of American Beauty, and the timeline of the #MeToo movement, the movie’s Oscar winning screenwriter became wary if the movie had become forever tainted, especially after the whole Kevin Spacey fiasco that we had to endure for a few years too many.
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Alan Ball Thought the Beauty of American Beauty Was Tainted
Back in 1999, when American Beauty hit the screens, it managed to grab the attention of every member of the audience. The Kevin Spacey-Annette Benning starrer movie made a huge splash, depicting the perverse aspect of what many considered romantic and satirizing the concept of beauty in accordance to an American middle-class man’s thoughts.
In what was being depicted as the actions of his mid-life crisis period, the character of Kevin Spacey falls for the charms of his young daughter’s best friend. And that’s where the story starts unraveling. But screenwriter Alan Ball thinks that a movie like American Beauty might not get the chance to be made in these times. Spacey’s fall from the top of the food chain to being named an abuser only added to the woes. During an interview with The Independent, Ball said,
“I feel really sad because of what happened with Kevin had sort of left its mark on it. Especially since the character he played in the movie is somebody who’s lusting after a 17-year-old girl. I wonder if that movie would get made now.”
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And it’s not too far fetching to think so, given Spacey’s current status in Hollywood, even after recently being acquitted of all accusations. The audiences mindset have also changed since 1999, and a story like American Beauty might not get the same reception it got back then, even if it is one of the most well made movies in Hollywood, and deserves all the accolades to its name.
American Beauty Is So Much More Than Just Kevin Spacey and His Mid-Life Crisis
The Sam Mendes directorial reached its pinnacle because of the performance of its spectacular cast, led by Kevin Spacey. But it would be wrong of us to say that Kevin Spacey is the only one who made the film great. Each member of the cast gave a breakthrough performance and were praised for it as well. And Thora Birch, who played Jane, Spacey’s insecure daughter in the movie, will also tell you the same. In conversation with The Hollywood Reporter’s It Happened in Hollywood podcast, Birch said,
“I think it’s up to someone like me who was a part of American Beauty to try to remind everyone that it was an entire community who made this film. We all love this film. And it doesn’t have anything to do with Kevin at the end of the day.”
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Birch was quite upset how such a well-made movie was being tainted just because of an individual who was part of it.
“You can’t help but feel, ‘great, now we have this stain on the film,’” Birch said. “But no — it shouldn’t be on the film. Who’s to blame? It’s Kevin. It doesn’t have anything to do with American Beauty.”
Seperating the art from the artist has been a long-standing debate, and this is yet another case of the same. Does American Beauty remain steady in its success, or do the shadows cast by an individual taint it?
American Beauty is available to stream on Prime Video.
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