Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) is a disillusioned father who’s suffering mid-life meltdown and is increasingly alienated from grasping, estate agent wife Carolyn (Annette Bening), sullen teenage daughter Jane and his neighbours.
Tired of being “a whore for the advertising industry” he dryly blackmails his boss into a pay-off (“Can you prove that you didn’t offer to save my job if I let you blow me?”) and returns to an adolescent hedonism that throws his family and the all-American suburb into chaos.
The sexually frustrated Bening begins an affair with estate agent Peter Gallagher while Spacey fantasises about Mena Suvari, a teenage friend of his daughter’s.
Their disparate needs make for a comic tragedy of misunderstanding that combines acute observations with side-splitting scenarios.
British theatre director Sam Mendes made an astonishing film debut with this sublime black comedy, and this truly outstanding film (on which Steven Spielberg acted as an uncredited producer) deservedly picked up a clutch of Oscars, including best picture, best director and best actor for Spacey.