Fences was directed by Denzel Washington who also stars in the movie along with Viola Davis. Fences is based on the play by August Wilson which carries the same title. This movie is the third film directed by Oscar winner Denzel Washington and it is his second time working with Viola Davis (the first was his directorial debut “Antwone Fisher” which also starred Davis). For their roles in Fences both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis have been nominated for the upcoming Oscars.
Synopsis: Fences focuses on an African American family during the 1950s and the struggles they face. Troy (Denzel Washington) is a hard-working father and husband who provides for his family. His wife, Rose (Viola Davis), is a loving and loyal wife and mother. On the surface, Troy and Rose have a strong marriage but when drama and temptation ensue their true colors show. The plot of this film is intriguing and develops slowly as we watch events unfold in the lives of Troy and Rose. 9/10
Direction: Some would argue that to call Fences a “movie” is an overstatement. Although I agree that Fences feels like someone simply recorded a Broadway play, I still enjoyed the thematic element that Washington brought to the screen. This film is held in confined spaces and we spend a majority of the film in Troy and Rose’s house. For some this may be distracting, but I found that the story and especially the performances were greatly emphasized by the fact that the audience never leaves the house. You feel as if you are standing in the living room or the kitchen while Troy and Rose share intimate moments and heated arguments. There is no doubt that Washington directed Fences in limited locations for this specific purpose. The direction, although confining, brings intensity and closeness to this drama. 8/10
Characterization: There is no doubt that Fences is held up by Denzel and Viola’s spectacular performances. They both give so much life and emotion to these roles that I couldn’t imagine any one else portraying them. Although Troy and Rose are spectacular characters, the rest of the characters lack in development. Troy and his son Cory have intense dialogue towards the end of the film but because Cory is never given an full arc its difficult to connect with him. Fences really only shows you two viewpoints, one from Rose and the other from Troy. All other characters seem expendable in a movie that is clearly Washington and Davis’ film. 7/10
Conclusion: There is no denying that Fences includes two of today’s finest actors who give explosive performances that we’ve all come to expect. However, for those who went to watch a thrilling three act drama they will probably leave a little disappointed. Fences has four acts and is completely directed and filmed in a way that emphasizes its “stage play” predecessor. I am personally predisposed to plays so this was a treat for me, but in the effort to be unbiased I can completely understand why some would deny that Fences is a true film. Thankfully Fences makes up for this by including inspiring performances and a heart wrenching plot.
Final Score: 8/10