Fences

"Very Good"

Fences Review


After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film version of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play. First staged in 1983 (the Washington-Davis revival was in 2010), the story explores the experience of an African-American working class family in the 1950s. And its most powerful kick is in the balance of power between husband and wife, something that easily transcends the racial themes.

In Pittsburgh, trash collector Troy (Washington) is proud to be able to support his wife Rose (Davis) and teen son Cory (Jovan Adepo), who wants to attend university on a football scholarship. But Troy thinks this is unnecessary, forbidding him from playing on the team. Troy and Rose's other son Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson) is disabled but living on his own, and Troy has an older son, Lyons (Russell Hornsby), who regularly needs cash to top up his income as a musician. As he slowly builds a fence in the back yard, Troy is beginning to resent having to give in to all of these people, blaming his problems on white-majority culture. But Rose has had enough of his complaining.

Wilson's dialogue is heightened and gorgeous, with a poetic ring like modern-day Shakespeare as it explores enormous issues using clever wordplay and epic monologues. While Troy continually rants at how hard life is for a black man, the interaction points out that his main problem is actually his need to be in control of everyone around him. This makes Troy increasingly unlikeable, and Washington goes for broke in the performance. It often feels like he's playing to people sitting in the top of the theatre balcony, but it's impossible not to be moved by his words. By contrast, Davis' much more intimate Rose is the film's heart and soul. As the story progresses, she becomes the lead character, and Davis delivers a series of devastating scenes with raw power.

The surrounding characters are also very strong, with an especially fine performance from the young Adepo in a tricky role. And as the film's focal point shifts from Troy's opinionated ranting to Rose's expressive struggle, the audience is able to look beyond the stagey style of filmmaking. By using play's script, this never quite breaks out to be properly cinematic. But the script is so robust and important, and hugely relevant to everyone in the audience, that it demands to be seen. And Wilson's writing is so beautiful that it will clearly stand the test of time.

Watch the trailer for Fences:



Fences

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 139 mins

In Theaters: Sunday 25th December 2016

Box Office USA: $52,659,963.00

Box Office Worldwide: $50.8M

Budget: $24M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Scott Rudin Productions, Bron Creative, MACRO

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Fresh: 153 Rotten: 8

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Troy, as Rose, as Jim Bono, Jovan Adepo as Cory, Russell Hornsby as Lyons, as Gabriel, as Evangelist Preacher, Saniyya Sidney as Raynell, Christopher Mele as Deputy Commissioner, Jason Silvis as Garbage Truck Driver, Tra'Waan Coles as Towns person

Also starring: ,

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