American Fiction – TIFF 2023

TIFF 2023 Review American Fiction
Despite some unresolved subplots, this is an interesting and humorous satirical drama

American Fiction – TIFF 2023

Runtime: 01:57
Jeffrey Wright stars as author Thelonious “Monk” Ellison in this smart comedy that marks acclaimed writer Cord Jefferson’s feature directorial debut, based on Percival Everett’s award-winning novel Erasure.

An African-American author's satirical novel becomes a sudden and unexpected hit in . Thelonious “Monk” Ellison () is an author and English professor, who is placed on a leave of absence after a confrontation with an overtly politically correct student. In addition, Monk is informed by his literary agent Arthur () that his latest novel has been turned down for “not being black enough.” In response, and annoyed at the current hit novel “We's Lives In Da Ghetto” written by Sintara Golden (), Monk adopts the pseudonym Stagg R. Leigh and writes a novel filled with every black cliche imaginable. To Monk's shock, the book is immediately sold to a major publisher and even attracts the attention of pretentious filmmaker Wiley ().

American Fiction Synopsis

American Fiction is a satirical drama written and directed by debut filmmaker Cord Jefferson (Watchmen, The Good Place, Succession), based on the novel Erasure by Percival Everett. The film stars Jeffrey Wright (Asteroid City, The Batman) as Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, who returns home to Boston on a forced sabbatical and is reunited with his sister Lisa () and trainwreck brother Clifford (Sterling K. Brown). Situations result in Monk becoming the primary caregiver of his Alzheimer's suffering mother Agnes () and needing money, is forced to allow a satirical novel he wrote in spite to be published, resulting in it becoming a sudden and unexpected hit.

My Thoughts on American Fiction

The plot of American Fiction is divided between the satirical comedy of the unexpected hit of Thelonious “Monk” Ellison's incredibly stereotypical novel. Much of the humour in the film is very uncomfortable, involving mostly white people who believe they are celebrating diversity by celebrating what is clearly trash. While the film features a, somewhat purposely, unresolved romantic subplot with Monk's neighbour Coraline (), American Fiction still ends up being an interesting satire.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.