This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
“FENCES” is directed by Denzel Washington who also stars in it alongside Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson and Mykelti Williamson. This is the film adaptation of August Wilson’s award-winning play of the same title.
This story follows a working-class family in 1950’s Pittsburgh, and more specifically the father, who struggles to take care of his family. He is unable to escape the mental torment of his early life, and the story captures the difficulties this has on him, and those around him, when coming to terms with the life he was dealt.
Now I went into this movie blind. I had heard of August Wilson’s play, never seen it, and only knew the one-line synopsis for it going in. But if you put Denzel and Davis on the cover together, I’m getting a ticket, and for that aspect this film was a massive success.
The performances in this film were exceptional from top-to-bottom. This is what young actors and actresses should dream to be able to pull off, because both Washington and Davis thrive in this movie. It is extremely dialogue heavy, while watching this movie you are virtually a fly on the wall of this family, and you sit in on many long conversations throughout and it was incredibly captivating.
Washington was fantastic, this was one of his best performances. He was able to pull off the range of this character with ease. Troy Maxson was a severely tormented man. He felt life had dealt him a bad hand for the most part. But despite having a home, a beautiful wife and kids, the anger from his past wouldn’t allow him to really enjoy it.
This internal rage he had would result in conversations that could change emotional tone on a dime, and Washington pulled this off perfectly. He was charming and happy one minute, making you laugh as he told a story. Then instantly something would trigger him to flip into a hostile angry man like a light switch and I thought this tone of the conversations were very compelling and created a feeling of tension.
Viola Davis was excellent as well as a wife that loved her husband, wanted to be happy, tried everything she could to make things right for her husband. But even she was feeling the effects of his anger to world and Davis conveys it so effectively. She has a scene in this one that gave me goosebumps, it was brilliant to witness and to me will go down as one of her classic performances.
Just watching the chemistry of these two performers was simply awesome to sit back and take in. They flow through the endless dialogue with precision and you don’t ever feel like you are watching performers, you feel like you are watching real people having a conversation and that was the strongest aspect of this movie.
The supporting cast were all very good as well, in particular Mykelti Williamson who was subtly fantastic to me. He was so good in this film, with a performance that will in the end be out shadowed by that of Washington and Davis. But he definitely leaves his imprint on this movie in his smaller role.
“Fences” may not be a movie for everyone, the story was intriguing but very drawn out. It could have been cut much shorter, and still delivered the same impact. But in my opinion, the extra time spent getting to watch the cast work was worth it to me. This movie is almost two and a half hours long, and despite the performances it does feel much longer than that.