Fences (REVIEW)

Written By Jacob Chimilar (Letterboxd: Sweetlows)

Directed by Denzel Washington in an adaptation of a play by August Wilson starring Denzel and Viola Davis in roles they won Tonys for, this story follows a struggle of broken dreams, family and fighting for the life you've always wanted.

The fact this was based on a play shows. It's a very contained film, taking place mostly outside the backyard of Troy and Rose Maxson's house. It's very dense with dialogue and each scene starts off normal and builds and builds to a crescendo of emotion. Denzel comes off as a man's man, a good old boy who grew up with a tough father and found his own way in life. He was also one who could weave a good story and seemingly have a good time with others. Slowly though we see his true nature and resentment come out. A baseball player who missed making it big due to racial restrictions in the Major Leagues just to have it lifted when he was past his prime. Painting a past of a man with big dreams who was brought down to earth with little to show for it.

I really enjoyed this film. It isn't flashy or too melodramatic. T he performances are equally explosive and subdued when it is required and Denzel and Viola just disappear into their roles.  You feel for these characters and understand their struggles and how each person is a real person, with feelings and desires. The few supporting cast are mostly up to the task, the actor playing Troy and Rose's son Cory acts like a kid would I feel and the other brothers of Denzel show their different paths versus his own and how he feels about it and how Rose deals with the life she was handed.

Even at over two hours there isn't a dull moment. It all very condensed living day to day as stories unfold and characters move and change (or refuse to) and the consequences of those actions. It does try to end on an upbeat note and does so with a bit of cheese that doesn't take away from the rest of it but doesn't provide a final punch either. But that is a tiny gripe in a well acted drama with quality, character driven dialogue that reveals it's many layers over time. Weaving a history that is sad and touching with bursts of humor, that covers the underlying pain. If you like to see the slice of life struggles of the average American family, told with the kind of dense dialogue you really only get in plays and Aaron Sorkin shows, look no further than Fences.