Indie Memphis Film Festival Review: American Fiction

"American Fiction tackles some serious and traumatic racially motivated topics in a sensitive way with earnest and laughter."

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In the past decade Hollywood has had a conveyor belt full of civil rights and slavery films come out that pander to a predominately white audience that is looking for anyway they can find to show how much of an ally they are to the social injustices that have happened to people of color recently. 

Since the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement, the protesting of the Oscars’ lack of diversity in nominations, and other racially sensitive topics, the film industry has rushed films out from a variety of minority film makers in an attempt to educate the viewer on these and other serious themes. From Jordan Peele’s Get Out to George Tillman, Jr.’s The Hate U Give to Melina Matsoukas’ Queen & Slim, Hollywood has had a movie to cover every emotion and every traumatic situation that has plagued people of color since the dawn of this country’s existence. 

It is rare that a film comes along to peel back the curtain of the entertainment business to show just how stereotypical and racist the industry can be against minorities. First-time director Cord Jefferson delivers American Fiction, an emotional tale of an Africa-American author who is rejected left and right by publishers for his writing not being ‘black enough.’

Maybe not since Robert Townsend’s brilliant satirical Hollywood Shuffle has a film come along to tackle some of the racial politics in the entertainment industry. Jefferson adapted Percival Everett’s novel Erasure into American Fiction a film not only about a struggling writer but also about a son who is trying to find his way back home after exiling himself from his family for many years. 

Jefferson has crafted a perfect script from the novel that was just as splendidly delivered by the astounding cast of the film. Jeffrey Wright portrays Thelonious “Monk” Ellison with spot-on delivery. After his agent informs him of the feedback received from publishers he sets out to show just how out of touch they are by writing the most cringeworthy book full of cliches and tropes. 

A tragedy strikes inside the heart of the author’s family, bringing him back to his home town to handle some familial affairs. During this time. his book of which he wrote under a pseudonym is the talk of the literary world, causing even more stress to life. On top of everything, he connects with a neighbor and finds the love that has eluded him for so many years. 

American Fiction tackles some serious and traumatic racially motivated topics in a sensitive way with earnest and laughter. The script for the film is extremely well written and sharp, making it one of the funnier movies of the year. Some of the rest of the cast includes the hysterical scene stealing Sterling K. Brown, Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, and the ever so charming Myra Lucretia Taylor as housekeeper Lorraine. 

American Fiction is set to be released in theaters this December just in time for the start of awards season.  

Steven McCash is the Lead Music Writer and Utility Man for SoBros Network. Steven is the host of the ‘Drinking With…’ podcast, and the pioneer of New Music Friday, highlighting each week’s new releases in the world of music in addition to the occasional live show review. He also pitches in as a Nashville lifestyle writer and football analyst (hence the ‘Utility Man’ title). Follow on Twitter: @MC_Cash75

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