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Kwei’s Film Reviews-17--Oscar 2024 : “American Fiction."

Updated: Feb 27

[The 2024 Oscars will take place on March 10, 2024. Until then, I’ll review as many Best Picture films as possible.]

In my film reviews, I start with the benchmark of five stars and then deduct half or one point if the film falls short in any of the following categories:·

  • Storyline

  • Screenplay

  • Acting

  • Direction

  • Character Arcs

"American Fiction," starring the incomparably talented Jeffrey Wright, is a film that presents itself initially as a journey through the quirks and quibbles of the literary world but evolves into a much deeper exploration of authenticity and self-identity.

A detailed movie poster for "American Fiction" featuring a central figure reminiscent of Jeffrey Wright, who looks contemplative. The left side of the poster is vibrant and filled with creative literary symbols, while the right side showcases a busy corporate landscape with executives and skyscrapers. The image evokes a sense of thoughtfulness and the dichotomy between creativity and commerce
Pondering the Plotlines of Life and Literature (DALL-E AI creation)

Plot Overview

Set against the backdrop of a satirical corporate publishing world, "American Fiction" follows the journey of an esteemed yet disillusioned editor, played by Wright, who grapples with the mechanizations of a literary empire that values profits over prose. The story cleverly intertwines the mundane and the profound, propelling the audience through a narrative that is as much about the books on the shelf as it is about the chapters of one's life.

Cast Highlights

Jeffrey Wright as Thelonius “Monk” Ellison shines as the protagonist, delivering an understated but resonant performance with his ability to convey complex emotions with a glance. The supporting cast, including a ruthlessly pragmatic publisher and a cadre of eccentric writers, adds a rich layer of humor and humanity that complements Wright’s grounded performance. Tracy Ellis Ross and John Ortiz give terrific performances, and Sterling K Brown (Black Panther) as Clifford Ellison is particularly explosive ad unstable.


The film's triumph is its unflinching commentary on individuality in a homogenized world. It asks questions about the sacrifices we make for success and whether the loss of self is worth the gain of status. Wright’s character embodies this struggle, his arc unfolding with a poignant blend of irony and sincerity.

The direction is slick, with a knowing wink to the audience that never feels condescending. Instead, there is a harmonious balance between the comedic and the contemplative, a credit to the director's vision and the sharp screenplay that navigates these tonal shifts with grace. Indeed, there is pathos and pain as well.

Wrap-up and Rating

American Fiction is a rich, multifaceted film that uses its literary setting as a stage to discuss broader themes of personal integrity and self-worth.

Storyline: 4.5/5

Screenplay: 4/5

Acting: 5/5

Directing: 4/5

Character Arcs: 4.5/5

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