American Fiction has quickly become one of the most hotly anticipated movies of the fall after premiering at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to high critical acclaim and earning the prestigious TIFF People's Choice Award. The film, based on the novel Erasure by Percival Everett, is a mix of comedic moments with dramatic undertones, as it tackles an ever-present issue in American culture: watering complex individuals down to age-old stereotypes.
The film is set to release in just a few months and is already generating some Oscar chatter given the performances of its lead actors, as well as the script - adapted by screenwriter Cord Jefferson (The Good Place) - and its ability to capture humor alongside a deeper message. Here is all the info you need to know on the already buzz-worthy feature.
Editor's Note: This piece was updated on October 16, 2023.
- Release Date
- December 15, 2023
- Cord Jefferson
- Jeffrey Wright, Tracee Ellis Ross, Sterling K. Brown, Issa Rae, John Ortiz, Adam Brody, Leslie Uggams, Erika Alexander, Keith David
- 117 minutes
- Main Genre
- Comedy, Drama
- Cord Jefferson
- Story By
- Percival Everett
- Ben LeClair, p.g.a., Nikos Karamigios, p.g.a., Cord Jefferson, p.g.a., Jermaine Johnson, p.g.a.
- Orion Pictures, Amazon MGM Studios
When Is 'American Fiction' Coming Out?
American Fiction will have its limited release on Friday, December 15, 2023, before expanding the following week on Friday, December 22, 2023. The film was previously scheduled to be released on November 3 but was pushed back a month in order to capitalize on the Oscar buzz.
Where Can You Watch 'American Fiction'?
While audiences were wowed by the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, American Fiction will initially be released in select theaters on December 15, before expanding on December 22 when it will be released in theaters nationwide. In its wide release, American Fiction will be competing against the superhero blockbuster Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, the wrestling drama The Iron Claw, the musical rendition of The Color Purple, Michael Mann's Ferrari, and George Clooney's sports drama The Boys in the Boat. The film was previously scheduled to be released on
Most films are also released to streaming a few months after their exit from movie theaters, so if you miss American Fiction during its run on the big screen, you will sure be able to catch it on streaming at a later date. While tickets are not on sale yet, check back with Collider closer to the film's release date to learn where to find tickets.
Is There a Trailer For 'American Fiction'?
A trailer for American Fiction was released on October 16, giving audiences their first look at the critically acclaimed dramedy, including quotes from several reviews of the review.
Who Stars In 'American Fiction'?
American Fiction stars Westworld fan favorite Jeffrey Wright, who played the lovable (albeit constantly flustered) Bernard Lowe on all four seasons of the HBO epic. In reviews for American Fiction, Wright is being praised for his performance in the leading role of Monk, a once prolific but now struggling author fighting to stay relevant to present-day readers. Wright has starred in many other hit projects, like Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch and Asteroid City. Wright also appeared in box-office smashes The Batman, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and No Time To Die.
Also starring in American Fiction is Insecure creator and leading lady Issa Rae, who plays author Sintara Golden, the woman who opens Monk's eyes to the current state of the publishing world, and more importantly, what sells. Golden's character serves as a foil to Monk, challenging his way of thinking and forcing him to pivot in a direction that he is not used to. Rae has recently appeared in B.J. Novak's feature directorial debut Vengeance, as well as the recent summer hit Barbie.
Playing Monk's family are Tracee Ellis Ross as Monk's sister Lisa; Sterling K. Brown as his brother, Clifford; and Leslie Uggams as his mother, Agnes. Ross is best known for her role as Rainbow Johnson in all eight seasons of the popular ABC show Black-ish. She also starred in eight seasons of Girlfriends and has made appearances in comedies like Portlandia and Broad City. Brown is another familiar face in the film, having been a lead actor in all six seasons of the NBC phenomenon This Is Us. He has also had roles in Black Panther, The Predator, and Waves. Uggams has had reoccurring roles in some of the most iconic shows in television history, such as Roots, The Muppet Show, and The Love Boat. She has also appeared in Deadpool, Deadpool 2, and the upcoming Deadpool 3.
American Fiction also stars John Ortiz (Silver Linings Playbook) as Monk's agent Arthur, Erika Alexander (Get Out) as Monk's love interest Coraline, Myra Lucretia Taylor (Atlanta) as Monk's family's housekeeper Lorraine, and Ray Anthony Thomas (Shutter Island) as Maynard, a family-friend of Monk's.
What Is 'American Fiction' About?
American Fiction follows the story of struggling writer Thelonious "Monk" Ellison (Jeffrey Wright) as he navigates the ever-changing publication landscape in a fight to stay relevant to modern-day readers. His publishers who were once very supportive no longer care to hear from the struggling writer. Monk takes notice of current best-selling author Sintara Golden (Issa Rae), whose best-selling book he views as caked in Black stereotypes. This realization of what sells to audiences infuriates Monk so much that he decides to write his satirical attempt at this type of watered-down, simplistic writing under a fake name. While writing the book started as a joke, it is suddenly just as popular as the writing from Golden that made his skin crawl. When Monk's mother falls ill and the revenue from the book becomes all the more important, Monk is faced with the ultimate modern-day dilemma: is it worth pandering to simplistic views of human beings to remain significant?
The synopsis for the film reads:
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.
Who Is Making 'American Fiction'?
American Fiction is based on the 2001 novel "Erasure" by Percival Everett and was adapted for the screen by Cord Jefferson, who also directed the film. Producers on the film include Jefferson, Ben LeClair (Fair Play), Nikos Karamigios (Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery), and Jermaine Johnson (From Scratch). Ram Bergman and Rian Johnson (Knives Out) executive produced the film through their T-Street Productions banner, with Everett and Michael Bowes also credited as executive producers.
Movies Like 'American Fiction' You Can Watch Right Now
Late Night (2019) - Late Night, a film written by and starring Mindy Kaling, was the first major sale at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, selling for $13 million to Amazon Studios. The film follows the story of Kaling, who plays struggling comedy writer Molly Patel, as she becomes a diversity hire by late-night legend Katherine Newberry (Emma Thompson). Not only is Molly the only person of color in the writer's room, she is the only woman as well. After attempting to fit in with the other writers to get her work used, Molly decides to use her unique point of view to her advantage, and in doing so, becomes Katherine's right-hand woman. As funny as the film can be at times, it also holds a much deeper message of the importance of diversity in the workplace, not just to check a box, but to generate art that tells stories from a variety of viewpoints.
Vengeance (2022) - For more of Issa Rae in a comedy/drama setting, Vengeance is another story about a man (B.J. Novak) attempting to stay relevant through the utilization of his ex's death to make a hit murder podcast. Novak's character of Ben varies from American Fiction's monk in that he is using someone he didn't care about to find fame, but Vengeance contains the same thematic element of doing what it takes to remain in the public eye. Like Monk, Ben is a writer who once felt on top of the world, but now is struggling to remain relevant in literature and journalism. Ben sees an opportunity to use a topic he thinks is ridiculous - the country's obsession with true-crime podcasts - and runs with it. The film was also Novak's directorial debut and was produced by Blumhouse Productions and Focus Features.
Second Act (2018) - Keeping with American Fiction's themes of the ever-present struggle to stay relevant to hold value to society, Second Act follows Maya (Jennifer Lopez) as she works her dead-end job at a big box store. Although Maya has brought in big sales for the store she's worked at for fifteen years, her lack of a college education puts a shadow over her savvy sales techniques and street smarts. Her best friend and co-worker Joan (Leah Remini) has her son make a fake resume and Facebook page for Maya, gaining her an interview at the prestigious Franklin and Clarke skincare company. While Second Act's Maya is unlike American Fiction's Monk in that she believes in the work she's lying about having experience in, the film highlights the same issue of viewing human beings as less valuable due to age or background, and how success is, unfortunately, more often found in conforming to society's expectations.