Fences: A Class Act

Fences movie review @duffythewriter

Fences is a movie adaptation of a screenplay of the same name written by August Wilson in 1986. The story focuses squarely on Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington), his life, his dreams, his failures and his family. Troy was once on the cusp of baseball stardom playing in the Negro leagues of 1930’s America, he was so close, but didn’t quite make it big as he was too old by the time black players were invited to pay in the major leagues. Troy’s brother Gabe (Mykelti Williamson) tragically fared far worse suffering a severe head trauma in WWII and is given a $3000 payout with which Troy buys the family home. Resentful of the fact the white man rules, missing out on his dream, and dealing with the guilt and shame he feels for his brother’s pain, Troy lives a life slowly bubbling and rising with bitterness and anger.

When Troy’s young teenage son Cory (Jovan Adepo) gets picked for the American Football team at school, it triggers anger, frustration and decisions that will irrevocably change the lives of Troy, his ride or die wife Rose (Viola Davis), who delivers the most poignant moment of the film, and all those within range of the impending emotional explosion and fallout.

I haven’t seen the screenplay, but this film feels like it stays true to the stagecraft. The acting is sharp, tight and tense; shot only in the modest family home, the street, and the backyard. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are magical together, I felt immersed in their family for 2hrs 37minutes, and there were times I wanted to get up off that kitchen chair and race away into the street. The supporting cast of Cory (Adepo) and a small, yet sensitive performance from older step-brother Lyons (Russell Hornsby) as the sons of Troy, along with brother Gabe are touching and nuanced. Troy’s long-suffering best friend Bono (Stephen Henderson) is the perfect foil to the backyard raconteur  Troy (Denzel), as he tells embellished stories and regales a past spattered with skewed memories.

Should You Go And See The Movie?

Fences is a powerful movie, and one all serious movies goers should get out and see. No CGI, no car chases or murders, just real acting chops on the big screen, contained within a small house and a claustrophobia-inducing back yard as the metaphoric fence gets built,to keep people out, and maybe to keep them in too.

I loved Fences so much I’m even willing to forgive the last 2 minutes of the movie. It wasn’t a disappointment; it just didn’t fit with the plot and characters at all. Pondering after I left the cinema, I felt that the writers needed to get all the characters in the final scene and that’s how they chose to do it. For me, it softened and almost praised a man that wasn’t by any means a good one.

Five stars from me. One of the best movies I have seen in the last five years.

Out in cinemas on Feb 9.  Share this post with your movie date and book a ticket this week!