American Fiction Movie Review
American Fiction is both a touching drama and hilarious comedy. It’s also one of the best movies of 2023.
Jeffrey Wright gives a terrific, head-turning performance as novelist Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, who thinks so highly of his intellectual work that he lives up to his snobbish name. The problem is, as a black author in America, audiences (especially the white majority) want stories from the hood. So Wright also gives a terrific, head-turning performance as fake author Stagg R. Leigh, who gives the audience exactly what they want.
Directed and co-written by Cord Jefferson, American Fiction is a highly entertaining, funny, and surprisingly deep film that plays with a swirl of different themes and topics and somehow makes them all work. American Fiction is Jefferson’s directorial debut, and it’s an impressive one. Complex, sharp, and direct with its message, the movie fires on all cylinders. Amazingly, it also remains lighthearted and accessible; this isn’t a Spike Lee joint that abrasively bops you over the head.
Wright is great and deserves every credit given to him, but the entire cast is on fire. Tracee Ellis Ross, with limited screen time, is dynamite. Erika Alexander has incredible chemistry with Wright; their dynamic is powerful and heartwarming. And Sterling K. Brown gives an absolutely searing performance.
There’s very little not to like. American Fiction is funny, thoughtful, and entertaining as hell. Jefferson makes it all look easy, but this is a complex piece of work that he pulls off in a masterful way. Highly recommended.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.