American Beauty, its story background is a bit vague. I am wondering if there is any hint regarding where its story take place? E.g. people's accents, attitude, landscape and etc.

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    Filmed in Los Angeles. Supposedly set in Chicago, but I've yet to find any decent proof from the film
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 23:36
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    "We're FLYING above suburban America, DESCENDING SLOWLY toward a tree-lined street." - Nothing useful in the script; imsdb.com/scripts/American-Beauty.html
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 23:36
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    The numberplates in the film look to be custom. They're yellow and say "The Promised State" on them, which doesn't seem to correspond to any real plate design
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 2, 2023 at 23:59
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    @Valorum On the contrary, it seems very useful. It indicates that the story is not set in a specific place in suburban America.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 8:28
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    @Valorum or the point isn't that it is located in a very specific place, but rather the generalization of [90's] suburban America is. The idea being these events are something that could/do happen anywhere in places "like" these. I'm pretty sure I remember reading Ball loosely based AB on the Amy Fisher story who was from the suburbs in NY. Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 13:01

1 Answer 1


This IMDB Goofs entry says the telephone area codes and newspapers indicate the story takes place in the Chicago area. (The "goof": one scene has car windshield reflections of buildings that are known to be in Burbank, California)

Area code examples:

  • In an early scene Lester's wife (Carolyn) is setting up her realtor sign in front of a house she's showing, and she sees a competitor's sign at a house a few doors down the street. The phone numbers for both realtors have the 847 area code, which is for suburbs north and northwest of Chicago.
  • Several scenes later, Lester opens his daughter Jane's address book to get the phone number for Jane's friend Angela. The first page of Jane's address book has listings for Lester's and Carolyn's work numbers. Both have the 312 area code, in Chicago.
  • I know the IMDb entry doesn't have much information, but it would be useful to know what the telephone area codes are and what the newspapers say. Presumably this can be gleaned from watching the film.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 12:02

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