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Oscar Winner 2024: American Fiction for Adapted Screenplay

American Fiction is a movie about a writer who struggling to get his work published and noticed. Hmm, wonder what that's like. Jeffrey Wright plays the role of Thelonious 'Monk' Ellison, an African American writer who is pressured into writing on the lines of Black stereotypes.


Considering that Chadwick Boseman addressed this very issue in his graduation speech at Howard University it seems very real and relevant. The movie is written well and is very light and breezy on the surface - makes for a great watch.




Plot of American Fiction


An American writer of African descent sees no other way than to publish work that is so stereotypical that he writes it as a joke. When the publishers he pitches this ridiculous book to respond with an amazing offer, he must consider actually going through his joke of a book.



The book is a biopic from the viewpoint of a person that Monk has made up named Stagg R. Leigh. The book is initially named my Pafalogy but in the effort to tank the book deal Monk suggests the popular swear word F@ck as the book title.



His situation is drastically altered when his sister whom he is close to passes away and his mother who suffers from Alzheimer's needs treatment and care. This means he can no longer ignore the book deal which is an insult to his creativity and negatively stereotypes his whole race.



My favorite scenes in this movie are the Eulogy scene for Monk's sister and Monk trying to pose as Stagg R. Leigh for a movie maker. The Eulogy scene sees Monk read from his sister's letter where she wishes to be found heaving under a famous actor haha.


You also see Sterling K Brown threaten his annoying neighbor with a beating when he opposes the release of her remains (ashes) into the ocean.



Cast


Jeffrey Wright does a great job of playing the tortured writer who remains unrecognized. But I do believe this isn't such a challenging role where Wright needs to work hard to portray the character of Monk.


Sterling K Brown does a great job of playing the prodigal child of the family, exploring his newfound sexuality with as many people as possible while drinking at 8 am. The Florida of acting, Brown, makes everything he acts in better!


Sterling K Brown as Clifford Ellison in American Fiction

Jeffrey Wright and Tracie Ellis Ross as siblings is a mood! Ellis Ross does an amazing job with the little screen time she gets and is part of one of my favorite scenes in the movie. Their conversation in her car is organic and just fun with both of them being playful siblings talking about stuff.


Jeffrey Wright and Tracy Ellis Ross as Monk and Lisa Ellison in American Fiction

The movie starts off with Monk seeing another writer who is played by Erika Alexander as Coraline who is his beach house neighbor. Wright and Alexander share believable chemistry as a new couple.

Erika Alexander and Jeffrey Wright as Coraline and Monk in American Fiction

Ever taken one of these pics pretending you hadn't just asked someone to click the pic? The scene just after his sister's Eulogy makes for a great scene where Monk thinks about his future. Probably thinking about how much his creative soul is worth and if he would trade it for his mother's well being.


Jeffrey Wright thinking in American Fiction

Every one has that one annoying neighbor you just want to choke, don't they? Sterling K Brown takes it to another level when his annoying neighbor disrupts their healing process with inane queries.



Leslie Uggams whom you might remember from the Deadpool movie as Blind Al does a great job of portraying the senile matriarch of the family.



Should You Watch It? Yes!


This movie is a subtle commentary on how people in the US want to view people of African descent. The non-black folk of the US wants to always see their black peers as victims of circumstance and as non-intellectuals.


But this subject matter is handled with great care and subtlety almost making this movie highly ironic. This will make sense if you consider how the American Fiction is made compared to what happens in the movie.


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