Taking any form of play whether it’s stage or a musical, you need to right actors, settings, and the energy to hopefully get it right. With Denzel Washington’s Fences, it might have done it well perfectly.
Based on August Wilson’s Pulitzer-winning play on the same name, this focuses on Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington), a Pittsburgh garbage man in the 1950s with the struggles surrounding that time period and the day to day life of the family.
When you have an entire movie with nothing but it’s just dialogue that’s probably interesting, you got yourself a great movie. In which that what Fences is. Even though it’s just scenes of people talking, it’s really riveting among what they are talking about having real conversations. It’s the kind of conversations that can go right or wrong depending on how it’s going forward. It just speaks the truth out there.
Right off the bat, the performances from Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are out of control here. What’s great is that both of them were in the play in the 2010 revival and they pulled their best in this. Washington is still one of the best actors working today and this is the greatest performance he’s given since Flight. His character has so much charisma to himself and as the story continues, you get to understand how he was raised back then. Going off on about why he doesn’t like his son and how he doesn’t want him to be like his own father is brutal and just leaving with the impression of “awe”. He can be a little bit complex at times, but the way he gives it his all into this, it’s by far one of the best performances of the year.
Davis as his wife, Rose, was a heartbreaking and soulful woman as she tries to control her husband’s rambles and doing the same thing every day for a housewife. Still, to this day, I’m still mad that she lost the Oscar for The Help and she’s most definitely a lock of winning Best Supporting Actress next year for sure. There were a few scenes that she completely transcends into a real character. Most definitely one of the best African-American actress working today to sure.
The rest of the performances from Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby and Mykelti Williamson were also outstanding. At this point in life, who knew Washington was a fantastic director. Only this third time behind the camera was this is his follow up to Antoine Fletcher and The Great Debaters, he’s such a talented director and should do it more often. This honestly felt like it was an actual play but in a good way. There were even times where I forgot I’m watching a movie. That’s how impactful this was. There was so much connection to everybody as if I was in that position.
The best thing about the entire movie was the screenplay by the late August Wilson, who also did it with his play as well and given credit to the script. The way the characters talk to one other was so real. The way the 1950s was portrayed feel authentic for showing how people especially African-Americans struggle to try to support the family and doing what it takes to do everything right. Something in here probably has a good moral about working hard with what you can and don’t just stand on your own grounds on somebody else.
This is almost similar to how Manchester By the Sea was structured in their characters and how real it feels while watching it. Although, this feels more lively than Manchester. Great performances, exceptional directing, a screenplay that feels fresh, and it shows how much power it can provide just based on a play. It’s one of the best movies of the year.
Fences was absolutely a truthful and powerful drama with its outstanding script and remarkable performances from Washington and Davis.