American Fiction review by Bobby Blakey
I have been a fan of Jeffery Wright since I saw him in Shaft in 2000. I know he had done more, but that is when he caught my eye and loved him there. Even more so I have loved seeing his evolution in so many other performances over the years, so if he is involved, I am interested. His latest film American Fiction teams him up with first time feature director Cord Jefferson and co-stars Tracee Ellis Ross, John Ortiz, Sterling K. Brown, Erika Alexander, Adam Brody, Issa Rae, and Keith David. Is this yet another great addition to his impressive filmography or is it too lost in its own fiction?
American Fiction follows Monk, a frustrated novelist who's fed up with the establishment profiting from "Black" entertainment that relies on tired and offensive tropes. To prove his point, Monk uses a pen name to write an outlandish "Black" book of his own, a book that propels him to the heart of hypocrisy and the madness he claims to disdain.
The premise alone to this film had me intrigued but add this cast and I was eager to see what was to come of it. I honestly thought it sounded like it might be one that is either a downer or slow paced, but thankfully I was so wrong. Sure, there is slower moments and some sad moments, but it is so engaging in its performances and messages unearth the crazy story that it just works.
I always love stories of things going the exact opposite of their intended direction. It just offers up so many chances for originality and fun. Here they have fully embraced it and have a story that shouldn’t be as believable as it is, but with the way society is and the nature of the human psych it works on every level. It’s simple and I love how it is telling this story that shines a spotlight on both the absurdity and society, but also the ridiculous mentality of people in how they think they should react or embrace things. That also leads into the
powerful narrative of stereotyping, but also still succeeding despite it and where the line is for different people.
The entire cast is great, but this Wright’s show all the way and he is outstanding. From beginning to end he brings so many layers to this role from grumpy and argumentative to frustrated and funny. He goes all in with trying to go against everything that this book he did stands for and to sabotage it and the more it works and is successful the better his performance gets out of the irritation of it all. I loved him in this role with easily one of his bets performances which is saying something since he is always great.
Filled with plenty of heart, laughs and everything in between, this movie fully embraces the heft and societal insanity that pushes its narrative all around. It is so much more than it might seem wrapped in a great story and often plenty of smiles within the frustration. I had no doubt I was going to like this movie but loved it so much more than expected. I hope this movie finds its audience and the accolades it deserves come awards season.
Decide for yourself and check out American Fiction in theaters December 15th from MGM.