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American Fiction deserves its five Oscar nominations

Film review: American Fiction (15) – seen at The Light Cinema, Wisbech

Starring: Jeffrey Wright, Erika Alexander, Leslie Uggams, Tracee Ellis Ross, Sterling K. Brown and Issa Rae

Director: Cord Jefferson Run time: One hour, 57 minutes

American Fiction
American Fiction

Oscar season continues with another contender showing at The Light, American Fiction nominated in five categories.

This gentle, touching comedy-drama is a satire on black stereotypes, especially in the literary world, and how they play up to the white people who crave them.

It is up for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Music at the Awards while Jeffrey Wright is nominated for Best Actor and Sterling K.Brown Best Supporting Actor.

Having watched it, I can see why it is receiving so much praise. Wright is self-effacingly excellent as bitter, withdrawn novelist Thelonious 'Monk' Ellison. Fed up with the establishment profiting from ‘Black’ entertainment, he uses a pen name to write a satirical book that propels him into the heart of hypocrisy and the madness he claims to disdain.

The tone is set at the start when a white student objects to his using the ‘N’ word while teaching American literature and continues through to an awards judging panel he is on when the predominantly white members declare they ‘must listen to black voices’ while ignoring his and that of fellow black author Sintara Golden (Issa Rae).

While Monk’s professional career rockets out of control and he is forced to take on the role of fugitive writer Stagg R. Leigh, he reconnects with the family he has grown apart from over the years – leading to the film’s most touching scenes.

There are some wonderful conversations between Monk and his sister Lisa (Tracee Ellis Ross) and some funny, emotional ones with his brother Clifford (Sterling K. Brown), who has finally come out after years of suppression and is making up for lost time!

Erika Alexander is impressive too as Monk’s strong, independent girlfriend Coraline and Leslie Uggams plays his mum Anges, suffering from the early stages of dementia, with respect and dignity.

American Fiction is a grown-up comedy addressing some serious questions in an amusing way. It makes you laugh, it makes you think and it deserves to be up there with the best of them at the Academy Awards.

Rating: 8/10

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Got a leisure story? Email sarah.cliss@iliffepublishing.co.uk

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