American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
People are always asking George to smile, and he tries to oblige, with a self-conscious twitch of the lips that reveals less happiness than wariness. What is he afraid of? Of smiling, I think. George (Tunde Adebimpe) is a serious, dutiful Nigerian who always wears glasses and usually wears a suit and needs to learn to listen to his heart.
We meet him at the airport in Buffalo, where he plans to meet his bride-to-be; it is an arranged marriage with a Nigerian woman his family has known for years. Alas, she arrived on yesterday's plane, and finding no one to meet her, has already gone on to Niagara, where the wedding it to take place. George's uncle (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) is apoplectic: The marriage makes good "sense," and George is blowing it.
That's the set-up for the low-key screwball comedy "Jump Tomorrow," which takes a 1930s Hollywood formula and recasts it with unexpected types. At the airport, George meets Alicia (Natalia Verbeke), a Latina who flirts with him and tells him about a party that night. And he meets Gerard (Hippolyte Girardot), a disconsolate Frenchman who has just proposed marriage and been slammed down.
George is not a demonstrative man, but for some reason he inspires others to enlist in his cause. He ends up at Alicia's party with Gerard, and by the end of the evening it is clear to Gerard, if not to George, that George is in love with Alicia. Gerard sees George as an assignment from heaven: If Gerard cannot find happiness in love, perhaps he can help George find it. He offers to drive George to Niagara. Along they way they encounter Alicia and her unpromising British boyfriend Nathan (James Wilby). Everyone ends up in Gerard's car (license plate: AMOUR), their romantic futures in doubt.