Thursday, January 5, 2017

Movie Review: Fences

The extraordinary play by August Wilson is brought to the big screen by Denzel Washington who stars and directs. Viola Davis co-stars in a powerful performance. As the movie is based on a play the location in primarily focused in the backyard of the house and a few rooms. Still, the movie packs a powerful punch with emotion and deep contemplation of universal issues.

Troy Maxson (Washington) is a garbage man working hard each day trying to move up in the world to a simple garbage truck driver but the racism of the fifties holds him back. He works hard for a small amount of pay and has to use this money to pay for his house and other expenses. He works with his friend Bono (Stephen Henderson) and comes home every Friday to share a bottle of gin in the backyard. The dialogue fills in the rest of the story and Washington is brilliant with lines that pop and utilize the actors best abilities. 

His wife Rose (Davis) tries to thrive in this simple life too, but the difficulty of her situation quickly becomes apparent. Troy is a man with strong feeling and while Rose tries to have a more moderate approach to issues. The movie explores all sorts of issues from religion and race to death and employment. Washington is non-stop as the brilliantly written dialogue never lets up.

The movie fluctuates between the brief moments of happiness pulled away from the tough life to immense grief as the two performers ratchet up the tension. Conflict comes from the children, one who is older and from another woman Lyons (Russell Hornsby) and Rose's son Cory (Jovan Alepo) who clashes with Troy over permission to play football and the way Rose is treated. The sons have their issues with their father that come to a head in the climax. These performances are also something special.

Fences should be a top contender during award season, especially for the brilliant acting of Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. I'd be surprised if one of them doesn't snag a major award. I would recommend this movie to those who like strong performances and also enjoy plays. It is evident that the film is an adaptation but a brilliant one. 

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