Popular for different reasons, comedy and drama are two powerful cinematic genres. Sadly, when used together, they sometimes lead to disaster. However, every now and then, a film manages to blend them in a deeply affecting manner. Written and directed by Cord Jefferson, American Fiction is emotional, funny and extremely well-made. Already nominated for several awards, this movie breaks the Oscar-bait mould by delivering a delightful viewing experience.
After angrily writing a book parodying black stereotypes, a frustrated author finds himself in a web of hypocrisy as those who think his work is earnest begin to adore it. The previously mentioned scribe is played by Jeffrey Wright. He is joined by Tracee Ellis Ross, Issa Rae and Sterling K. Brown.
Each actor in American Fiction forms part of a solid foundation that allows the film’s story to excel. Jeffrey Wright once again proves himself as one of the best performers today. The supporting cast is superb too, with standout characters brought to life by Sterling K. Brown and John Ortiz. With every scene that takes place, these individuals ensure that the script’s humourous elements land effectively, and its emotional moments make an impact.
It’s not easy for a movie to make you laugh in one moment and feel sadness in the next but American Fiction balances a wide spectrum of emotions. Furthermore, the core of the film is broken up into two narrative journeys, one involving the author’s familial relationships and the other following the success found with his new book. These components work quite well, even if it is clear that neither is allowed to be as strong as they could have been. This is not to say these elements are deeply flawed, because they aren’t. But perhaps an already great movie could have been even better if the narrative prioritised one storyline over the other.
American Fiction is simply wonderful. It’s the kind of movie that leaves you with a huge smile on your face. A refreshing awards-season contender, you could easily recommend this release to any film lover, no matter where their preferences lie.