Communication Builds Our Community

"American Fiction" a Satire That Hits All the Right Notes

"American Fiction" offers us some great satire performed by a stellar cast.

Directed and written by the talented Cord Jefferson and starring Jeffrey Wright, this film is a masterpiece in both storytelling and social commentary.

This movie is about an African American writer whose books are not accepted by publishers because they don't fit certain specific expected African American themes. This is based on a book written 20 years ago but the issues are still true today. As an avid book reader I have noticed this about Black stories. They are only about a few topics, slavery, civil rights, gangs and police violence. It seems that African Americans don't have any other possible stories to share that white readers would have an interest in.

So the writer, Monk, writes an anonymous over-the-top "African American themed" book that the white publishing community absolutely loves. It's meant to be a joke but it's taken seriously and becomes popular. But these events are paralleled by conflicts within his own family. The movie is saying with this that there are other stories about African Americans that could be told but aren't.

I enjoyed how the film juggled the two compelling storylines - the satirical novel and the protagonist's personal struggles - without losing focus. The topic of racial stereotypes was handled with both humor and poignancy, I particularly liked the scene where several authors are reviewing books for an award and the White authors are not listening to the Black authors about this book. One woman says "we really need to listen to Black voices right now" while ignoring the Black voices in the room.

The movie offers different endings which presented a fascinating thought experiment, and I found myself pondering both which one I liked and which one audiences would consider "true". I suspect this kind of thing gets discussed in Hollywood from frequently.

The entire cast is stellar. Jeffrey Wright delivers a tour-de-force performance as the conflicted protagonist, and the supporting actors, including Tracee Ellis Ross, Sterling K. Brown, and Issa Rae, bring their characters to life with authenticity and humor. I personally liked Sterling Brown's character of the brother, he was funny.

Jeffrey Wright is mainly seen as a side character in a lot of movies like The Batman and others. He is great in the show Westworld. This is one of the rare occasions you get to see him lead a movie and he carries it off very well.

This film is a must-watch for anyone interested in exploring complex social issues through thought-provoking storytelling. It left me laughing, thinking, and eager to discuss it with others.

This movie was nominated for five Oscars including Jeffrey Wright for best actor, Sterling Brown for best supporting actor and Cord Jefferson for adapted screenplay. These nominations are very well deserved.

I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars. Go watch it!

 

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