After watching every season of the too-superb-for-words Six Feet Under , going back to Alan Ball's Oscar winning triumph and similarly-themed American Beauty is an even more rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Director Sam Mendes coaxes wonderful performances across the board from his cast and visually he perfectly enhances one of the film's main themes: that beauty can be found all around you in life, you just need to ‘look closer' for it. The cuts he made to Ball's script (including a back-story to Chris Cooper's character that went into how his gay lover died at war, and how Ricky and Jane were jailed for Lester's murder) were all the right ones, and he interprets the fantasy sequences perfectly – setting the tone for similar ones to be found later in Ball's Six Feet Under .
Everything in this film works for me. Not a scene is wasted. Spacey brings such a youthful glee to Lester's mid-lie crisis that masks such profound melancholy – it's remarkable even though his character's main motivation is to seduce his daughter's school-friend Angela he never comes across as lecherous, but rather just humorously pathetic and endearing in his naïve pursuit.
I'm even a sucker for the plastic bag scene, as much as I love taking the piss out of it every time I see litter flying in the wind. That scene could have gone laughably bad, and that it did not shows what class and talent were involved on this film and why it deserves its place as a modern masterpiece.