- Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, John Ortiz, Sterling K. Brown
- Written by
- Cord Jefferson ( screenplay by), Percival Everett ( based on the novel
- Directed by
- Cord Jefferson
- Run Time
- 1h 57min
- Release Date
- December 22nd, 2023
When it comes to fame and success, for some, it comes pretty easy. It seems nowadays it is not so much about talent but about doing something at the right moment. I would think seeing someone shoot up the ladder because of a moment might bother those who have been climbing it for years. I am not saying there is anything wrong with either way of achieving success, but I know if I were the one still climbing that ladder, I would be very frustrated.
Writing has come easy for Monk Ellison (Jeffery Wright), but success not so much. Although his books are well-written, they don’t seem to appeal to a great many people. His manager, Arthur (John Ortiz), is having trouble selling his new book, and Monk is having just as much trouble accepting that. To add insult to injury, Monk is witnessing Sintara Golden’s (Issa Rae) book, with its bad writing and, in his eyes, far less superior work than his, succeed. Monk is not just having a problem with his professional life, as his mother Agnes (Leslie Uggams) is starting to forget things, and while his sister Lisa (Tracee Ellis Ross) is carrying most of the load, it is still a weight on his shoulders. So Monk decides that if you can’t beat them, you might as well join them and writes a book of nonsense under a different name. That journey down hypocrisy lane launches Monk’s biggest success. While his professional life is soaring, his personal one is getting more complicated, as his mother is getting worse, and now his brother Clifford (Sterling K. Brown) is more interested in making up for lost time than helping. All of this makes for an interesting time for Monk, and for us viewers, quite a fun one.
Based on the book Erasure by Percival Everett, Cord Jefferson, who wrote the screenplay and directed the film, delivers some delicious humor and satire. He has also made the ever so rare social commentary movie that invites people in without the guilt. So you can laugh at these problems while still preaching just enough for them to see how those problems affect those around you. Jefferson not only shows he knows how to entertain the viewer, but he also shows the ability to juggle multiple storylines as he delivers an honest look at the complexity of race. All of this is to say that Cord Jefferson has soared in his feature debut.
American Fiction is a fantastic, yet lightly toned, satire that takes itself seriously enough to let you see the truth underneath the humor. Wright is fantastic and plays a role that seems truly made for him. While we see how witty and funny Wright can be, it is the scenes with Brown that also show how great an actor he truly is, as he delivers one of the best performances of his career. It is easy for me to say that American Fiction is a genuine crowd-pleaser, that is quite funny, but also challenges its audience, hopefully setting up some great conversations afterward.