American Fiction

American Fiction

By Bessy ADUT

Hello readers, today I would like to write about another Academy Award winner of 2024. The movie "American Fiction" brought the “Best Adapted Screenplay” Oscar to Cord Jefferson who also directed the film as his first feature film. The movie was a comedy-drama which really makes you laugh bitterly and fill your eyes with tears a few times. The movie was based on the book “Erasure” by Percival Everett.

We are introduced to the protagonist of the movie, an author and academician, who feels jaded about writers smiling at the "black" culture, thus getting popular best sellers and receiving praise. The movie premiered at the accomplished Toronto International Film Festival and had already won a significant People’s Choice Award. Jeffrey Wright was also nominated for best actor and even though he didn’t win the award, he really gave a very realistic performance.

SPOILER ALERT from here on...

We are introduced to the elite writer/professor Monk who teaches at the college level but his novel isn’t doing so well. He gets rejected trying to publish his latest work and his sales are not doing well for as they say not being “black enough.” He grinds his teeth against the stereotypical movement and popularity. When he gets in conflict with the university students, he is sent on a temporary leave.

Monk goes to Boston for a seminar as well as an opportunity to catch up with his family. His seminar doesn’t receive good attendance whereas a fellow author Sinatra Golden (played by Issa Rae as you may know from the popular HBO show "Insecure") has a packed room. Her best-selling novel “We’s Lives in Da Ghetto” is a very stereotypical book that Monk disses.

Monk later gets together with his mom and sister. His mom has a difficult Alzheimer’s disease. As they’re discussing their mom's condition, his sister Lisa (who is still very young) dies suddenly and unexpectedly which is quite traumatic. Her brother comes to town for the funeral. He has a very different lifestyle since his divorce from his wife. The two brothers have their differences but they both want to help their mom. This sets up a good motive for him to want to make more money and help his mom and "sell his soul" in a way by writing a popular black culture book and he creates a fake persona.

Monk generally seems to be a lonely man. He meets a lawyer woman, the woman next door, who is an avid reader. Monk decides to try out a style that he had been so against with a pen name just to experiment with it. Better not type it out here but he also chooses a very vulgar title for it. Of course, he acts very strangely with his secret persona he even hides from his girlfriend who happens to really like the book.

He is also invited as a jury member for a writers' competition. Ironically enough his own book he wrote with the fake pen name ends up being in there and he is terrified the truth is going to come out and he is going to be titled as a scam.

My favorite part of the movie was how they made and showed 3 different possible endings for the movie. I think it was really entertaining. I believe this part earned the Academy Award for the best-adapted screenplay. Even though I am giving some spoilers I don’t want to disclose that much. However, I did enjoy all the possible endings and the playful ending of the movie a lot.

The screenplay and performances were the highlights of the movie. I also enjoyed the soundtrack. Critical response was positive overall. It’s been considered a humorous, smart, emotional, and universal movie theme. Aside from the Academy Award, the movie also won and was nominated for many other awards.


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