American Fiction review[star rating=”4″] AMERICAN FICTION. Director: Cord Jefferson. Writers: Cord Jefferson and Persival Everett. Starring: Jeffrey Wright. Prime Video.


Yesterday I came home after a weekend of activities, engagements, and festivals, quite quite shattered, and my friend recommended I watch American Fiction because it is funny and won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay and it stars Jeffery Wright, who I think is fabulous.

So, I found it, and watched a few seconds of the trailer before diving in – and discovering it is totally my cup of movie tea.

Jeffrey Wright plays Thelonious ‘Monk’ Ellison, or Monk, or Monkey (his mom’s nickname for him). He is a serious novelist, struggling to get his latest work published, frustrated with his overly sensitive students (hilarious white student who tells her black lecturer that she is uncomfortable), who is asked by the faculty to ‘take a break’. He goes home to Boston where his mother’s Alzheimer condition is becoming apparent, his relationship with his sister is prickly, and his brother is entirely absent.

Then family drama is etched up about seven notches, and all his middle-class bullshit surfaces. At the same time, he is asked to be on an awards panel and must read the books for the awards. But. In a fit of rage and disgust, he spews out a ‘black book’ with drugs and violence and dumbed down language, and a pseudonym Stagg R Leigh. Of course, there is huge interest in this ‘definitive black novel’, and he ends up developing this fake author, an ex-con on the run from the cops. So, so funny, ridiculous, and true. Things escalate. His panel think the book is amazing. A winner.

Getting the balance

What is so charming about this film are the characters. Complex, flawed, uber-middle class, dysfunctional. Added to that is the white notion of what black people can and can’t be. These ideas are both turned on their heads and reinforced. It’s people, being people, with all the father stuff, and mother stuff, and success stuff and sibling stuff. It’s about money, and aging, and bitterness, and old hurts. It’s about new relationships and being an idiot and hurting those you love.

Sometimes a comedy gets the balance between ridiculous and sad totally right. American Fiction does. And I loved it.

What: American Fiction

Where: Prime Video