The major triumph of Toronto International Film Festival this year was Cord Jefferson’s directorial debut and Percival Everett adaptation American Fiction, led by Jeffrey Wright in one of his finest performances as an author who finds success in undesired ways by playing in stereotypes on a new novel he writes under a pen name. Picking up the top audience award at the festival, MGM has now shifted the release of the satire to a more prime December holiday slot of December 15 followed by a wide release the following week and now the first trailer has landed.
Here’s the synopsis: “AMERICAN FICTION is Cord Jefferson’s hilarious directorial debut, which confronts our culture’s obsession with reducing people to outrageous stereotypes. Jeffrey Wright stars as Monk, a frustrated novelist who’s fed up with the establishment profiting from “Black” entertainment that relies on tired and offensive tropes. To prove his point, Monk uses a pen name to write an outlandish “Black” book of his own, a book that propels him to the heart of hypocrisy and the madness he claims to disdain.”
I said in my review, “In a career of great performances, Jeffrey Wright delivers his best as Monk, gracefully wielding both the self-obsessed anxieties often synonymous with a struggling writer’s life and the scathing frustrations with a marketplace that is looking to cash in with whatever appeals to the largest audience possible. Adapted by Jefferson from Percival Everett’s novel Erasure, the writer-director leaves few targets untouched, from poking fun at Hollywood’s vacuous money-grubbing mindset to the way society celebrates Black voices by highlighting the most reductive representations possible, from slave epics to gangster dramas, to the way absolution-seeking white people are quick to praise these representations as “painfully real, urgent, and raw.” Taking a more comedic approach to rather complex issues, there’s a levity to style aided by Laura Karpman’s peppy score that delightfully catches one off-guard even if there’s the sense that Jefferson is more interested in the punchline than considering a deeper inquiry.”
See the trailer below for the film also starring Tracee Ellis Ross, John Ortiz, Erika Alexander, Leslie Uggams, Adam Brody, with Issa Rae and Sterling K. Brown.
American Fiction opens on December 15 and expands December 22.