Run time: 117 mins
Cord Jefferson’s terrific take on societal pretences in the face of political correctness.
University professor Thelonious "Monk" Ellison (Jeffrey Wright) escapes his fragile, easily offended students to visit his family in Boston. However, he soon finds himself thrown into the middle of family issues with sister Lisa, combative newly single brother Cliff and their mother Agnes. When his publisher asks him to write an obviously "Black" novel like hotshot author Sintara, whose new book is titled We’s Lives in Da Ghetto, Monk crafts a faux, cliched urban novel in frustration that inadvertently becomes a sensation.
Grounding its humour in earthy emotion and wryly honest performances, Jefferson’s stinging commentary highlights the arrogance of those with financial power, critiquing the dumbing down of society through art deemed overly important by critics. Wright’s brilliant portrayal of Monk is an obvious stand out but both Sterling K. Brown Brown and Tracee Ellis Ross respectively deserve huge credit as the delightfully disruptive Cliff and feisty Lisa.
In a narrative that cleverly exposes clichés, media missteps and Hollywood’s superficial nods to black culture, American Fiction ultimately asks whether such works challenge or perpetuate stereotypes, all while emphasising that black artists speak to broader audiences