It dawned on me yesterday that I have posted reviews of every Oscar nominee for Best Picture save one! I did some checking and there is not a review of Fences on my blog. I did take the time to see the film last month with my mother on Christmas when it was released, so I will write this review based on my memory of the picture. I apologize if it’s late but this is something I wanted to do.
Fences stars two of my favorite actors in an adaptation of renowned playwright August Wilson’s drama about an African-American family in 1950s Pittsburgh.
The plot: Troy Maxson is a sanitation worker who works day after day to take care of his family. He comes home everyday to his doting and loyal wife Rose, tries to pass on valuable life lessons to his son Cory, tries his hardest not give money to his eldest son Lyons who comes around the house on pay day and tries to keep his touched brother Gabe out of trouble. By all accounts, everything is fine on the surface but Troy has a secret. His secret is big enough to send shockwaves big enough to rip this family asunder.
The legendary Denzel Washington and star Viola Davis played the parts of Troy and Rose in August Wilson’s acclaimed stage production way back when and reprise these roles in a feature length motion picture with Washington not only starring but directing and Fences is practically tame in its execution yet the drama makes up for that in electric fashion.
Watching Fences, I felt as though the narrow sets and limited frame of setting gave this movie a near-theatrical experience moreso than a cinematic one. Meaning to say that I felt as though I was watching a play more than a movie and this adaptation stayed small in the sense that the scope was slimmed down to only the central characters and these characters didn’t venture much beyond the world they take place in; perhaps this is what August Wilson intended in his screenplay and what Denzel Washington wanted to do with the film.
Small, theater-like, production aside, Fences does boast two of the best acting performances of 2016.
Whether Troy is reprimanding his son Cory, bearing his sins before his wife Rose, cursing the heavens for the life he has lived, swinging a bat at the angel of death, you could not ask for more from Denzel Washington as he delivers an outstanding leading performance. I’ve always held Denzel Washington in high esteem and he has failed to disappoint me yet; he is aces in this role!
I’ve always believed that Viola Davis is too good for television; she belongs in movies! I was amazed with her small but powerful performance in Doubt, I thought she was phenomenal in The Help, I was sure she would own the role of Amanda Waller in Suicide Squad and she did, and Fences has set her up perfectly to get her the elusive Oscar statue she deserves! Her performance as Rose is heartbreaking, powerful and steady, when she is crying her eyes out in rage and anger, vindictive to Troy, consoling to Cory; she is dynamic and always has been!
The supporting cast of Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson and Saniyya Sidney are all solid supporting performances worth mentioning.
Technically speaking, Fences isn’t much to look at. Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s cinematography is fair, Hughes Winborne’s editing does well for itself, Marcelo Zarvos’ music is adequate, David Gropman’s production design is alright, the set decoration of Rebecca Brown and the costume designs of Sharen Davis are decent enough.
This review is strictly from memory and what I remember about Fences is that this was a movie to celebrate for the performances and the drama and nothing else.