REVIEW: Award Caliber Performances From Washington, Davis Make ‘Fences’ Worth A Watch

The award winning play “Fences” has come to the big screen thanks to Denzel Washington, who both starred in and directed this feature.

Washington’s role in this picture is the lead character Troy Maxson, an African-American man working a tough job in the 1950s to provide for his wife and son.

As the film progresses, it explores more of Troy’s relationships, his goals and his failures. Especially detailed here, though, is his strained relationship with his son, Cory (Jovan Adepo).

“Fences” is a passionate and intense piece of filmmaking that fully explores a broken and rather despicable character. As the film goes on, it reveals the depth of who Troy really is and as a result, creates compelling dramatic cinema.

What helps carry this is Washington, who gives a masterful performance as Troy. He perfectly portrays the attitude, temperament and personality the lead character has, allowing the audience to fully understand who he is.

Credit also has to go to Viola Davis, though, who gives one of her best performances of her career as Rose, Troy’s wife. Rose has struggled, she’s had to put up with many of Troy’s antics and through all of it she’s held herself together. Davis nails this so well, as she displays the exhaustion and pain her character has to go through. This is especially true in a scene where her character has a breakdown and pours her heart out.

While the cast deserves praise for the performances, it has to be shared to the original script. The play “Fences” has won its fair share of award hardware, and for good reason. The dialogue as it was brought to the screen is layered and powerful, with plenty of emotional weight behind every word. It explores race, fatherhood, careers and life itself and does so in a believable manner.

However, despite all the praise, this adaptation isn’t without its flaws. While Washington and the crew were able to include multiple camera angles and good shots, there still existed the aspect of a stage play on screen. There were plenty of scenes that felt like they would be better on a stage, as they lacked cinematic elements. That’s not to say that the film isn’t technically well made, but the scenes that take place in the same locations become repetitive from a visual stand point.

This is the picture’s only major issue, though. Overall, “Fences” is a solid adaptation with award-caliber performances from its two leads. 4 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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