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  • Jeff Beck

American Fiction: A Marvelous Blend of Satire and Drama (Blu-ray)

The Film:

One of the surprising breakout hits of last year was Cord Jefferson's delightful satire "American Fiction" (based on the book by Percival Everett), a film that connected with audiences ever since it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the coveted People's Choice Award for Best Film. Its accolades didn't stop there, as it went on to receive a flurry of nominations, with particular attention being given to Jefferson's remarkable screenplay, which won awards that included Critics Choice, USC Scripter, Writers Guild, BAFTA, and ultimately, the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay (which was among four additional nominations, including Best Picture). At long last, the film is finally getting its physical home release on Blu-ray, so let's take a look at what made this little film so successful.

Thelonious "Monk" Ellison (Jeffrey Wright) is an African-American writer & professor living in Los Angeles, whose books receive praise, but don't sell all that well, with his latest attempt getting rejected for not being what's stereotypically expected from a black writer. After an incident with some students at his university, he is placed on temporary leave and decides to attend a seminar in his hometown of Boston, where his family lives. His panel at the seminar isn't exactly popular, but he notices that another author, whose work utilizes black stereotypes, is extremely popular, giving him the idea to attempt such a novel of his own. Little does he realize that a novel that he wrote purely as satire would become an instant sensation, bringing with it a number of complications.

"American Fiction" is a delightful satire that basically takes a rather ludicrous idea and runs with it, tackling racial stereotypes in a most amusing way that is often laugh-out-loud funny. However, it also manages to balance it tactfully with strong doses of relationship & family drama as Monk struggles to deal with his mother Agnes (Leslie Uggams), who has Alzheimer's, his estranged brother Cliff (Sterling K. Brown), and a new woman in his life, Coraline (Erika Alexander). Finding the right mix between comedy & drama is a rather difficult thing to do, but Jefferson is able to do it quite skillfully, blending the genres to great effect.

Bringing the story to life is a stunning cast headlined by the great Jeffrey Wright, who deftly handles the requirements for both sides of the narrative, and ultimately earned his very first Oscar nomination in the process. Also delivering stand-out work is Sterling K. Brown as Monk's brother Cliff, whose complicated history includes drug use & marital issues. Like Wright, Brown would also go on to earn his first Oscar nomination for the role. The recognition they received from the Academy came as no surprise, just like their nods from SAG (which were on top of a much-deserved nomination for Best Cast). Their incredible performances, coupled with Jefferson's Oscar-winning screenplay, are pretty much the main reason the film works as marvelously as it does.

Overall, "American Fiction" is simply a delight as it weaves together its satirical elements with its dramatic material, delivering a film that ends up being rather effective in both areas, a feat that, as mentioned, is no easy task. With its sharp writing and excellent cast, it's not hard at all to see why the film has been so successful and garnered the accolades that it has. It's one of the best films of 2023, and should not be missed.


"American Fiction" comes to Blu-ray in a 2.39:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality, with the image looking beautifully sharp throughout the film's two-hour duration. Likewise, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is fantastic, giving you all of the dialogue and music in outstanding quality. Overall, Warner Bros. has done a wonderful job in both departments for this little gem's debut home release.

Special Features:



Cord Jefferson's "American Fiction" is a marvelous satire that tackles racial stereotypes in a very amusing way, while also managing to balance it tactfully with relationship & family drama. With a great cast that includes Oscar-nominated turns from Jeffrey Wright and Sterling K. Brown, it's a delightful, sharply-written blending of genres that results in one of the best films of 2023.

Score: 4/5

Now available on Blu-ray.

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