Friday, January 12, 2024

American Fiction

American Fiction would be a fun paring with The TV Set or Yesterday as a double feature. Jeffrey Wright stars as Monk, a lonely professor and struggling novelist whose work is often dismissed for not being black enough. After a dust up with a student forces an involuntary leave from the school, and while trying to avoid family drama he's not ready for, an angry and bitter Monk writes a novel under a pseudonym mercilessly parodying the worst black stereotypes only to find publishers and even movie producers lining up for My Pafology.

If that's all that was to the premise of writer/director Cord Jefferson's script it would be enough, but American Fiction offers much more with Monk dealing with the deteriorating mental health of his aging mother (Leslie Uggams), a death in the family, butting heads with his estranged brother (Sterling K. Brown), and a new romance. All that stress, added to his unintentional literary success he actively tries to kill, of course only drives him more crazy.

Adapted from Percival Everett's novel Erasure, American Fiction is a clever and funny film that takes great pleasure in winding Monk up over and over again, but it also works as a drama wearing its heart on its sleeve in a story about a middle-aged man struggling with a world that is constantly letting him down. With the film Jefferson has something to say about the simplistic themes expected from African-American authors by largely white audiences limiting and curtailing more nuanced stories they have to tell. It takes a number of swings at the likes of book publishers, literary critics, movie makers, marketers, and pop culture landing devastating body blows each time. Brash, bold, and bitterly funny, American Fiction is worth the trip to the theater.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: American Fiction
  • IMDb: link

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