Movie Talk,  MovieMuse Reviews by Erin

American Fiction

American Fiction (2023) – Very good, though not quite what I was expecting based on the previews. It was much more involved in the family drama aspects than the social commentary. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a different balance of the two from what I expected. Both sides were handled exceptionally well. The drama was genuine and engaging without becoming melodrama. The love and frustration between the characters flows easily and is not forced, and the “side story” about one particular character was so perfect.

As far as the social commentary goes, the jabs at both Black culture (or more specifically, how it is produced and packaged) and the white consumption of it were pointed and hilarious. As mentioned in my comments on The Color Purple, I am well aware that I am definitely adjacent to and sometimes a part of the demographic that was being satirized, but it was still oh so funny! (If you can’t laugh at yourself….) It was a truly fascinating experience to be in a theater that was fairly evenly split between Black and non-Black patrons, seeing who laughed at what. There was a lot of overlap, but there were also some moments that made only one group or the other laugh.

As far as the performances, Jeffrey Wright was flawless, as always. The man can convey more with the lift of a single eyebrow than many actors can with their entire body and several minutes of screen time. Sterling K. Brown managed to be simultaneously infuriating and sympathetic. Tracee Ellis Ross was phenomenal as the acerbic yet loving sister, and Erica Alexander’s performance was perfect in all aspects. This movie is absolutely worthy of all the accolades it has received!