Sunday, 26 February 2017

Fences Film Review

I saw the film Fences last week and I'm just squeezing the review in under the wire. Directed by and starring Denzel Washington. And based on the play by August Wilson. I studied drama at college and the film had that theatre feeling. With intimate scenes, monologues and staging. And as the film progressed I absolutely loved the setting in the yard. With no fence. And occasional ventures outside.


Denzel plays Troy Maxson. A man haunted by his failure to make it in baseball's major leagues. Instead he was a star player in the much less Negro leagues. Now in the 50's US, Troy works on the Pittsburgh refuse teams, achieving some small workplace victories. And enjoying the camaraderie of the guys on the job. Especially best friend Bono, played by Stephen Henderson. Who sticks with Troy as a man he wants to follow. Troy picks up his pay packet on a Friday and takes it home with a bottle of gin. And a sack of potatoes to wife Rose. And if Denzel is the heart, then Viola Davis as Rose is the soul of this film. Every tear Rose shed, I shed along with her.



Troy's son from a previous marriage, Lyons, played by Grimm's Russell Hornsby, with a twinkle in his eye, is a Friday night visitor to the Maxson home. Borrowing money on Troy's payday to keep playing as a jazz musician. And not taking a proper job as Troy berates him.

But there is a lot of love in the family home. Uncle Gabriel played by Mykelti Williamson was injured in WWII and his compensation bought the house. Mentally impaired he recently moved out to have some independence from the family. But they love him and he is always welcome in this happy home.

But son Cory, played by Jovan Adepo, is not feeling the love. Spotted as a potential football player he is offered a place at college. But needs his parent's permission. Troy will not allow it and describes his own harsh upbringing to justify his feelings. Is he fearing the rejection for Cory, that he suffered as an athlete. Or is he condemning Cory to the same life that he has, for fear that Cory might actually achieve what he could not. Rose takes Cory's side. Her son has a chance and although Troy was good. He was just too old for the Majors.

Troy and Rose together are both dynamic and heart wrenching. Troy has a secret and that secret will tear he and Rose apart. August Wilson wringing every drop of emotion from them.

The final scene with Uncle Gabriel is classic Chekhov or Ibsen. Playing his trumpet at St Peter's opening of the gates. I was emotionally wrecked.

Denzel is nominated for Best Actor and Viola Davis nominated for Best Supporting Actress at tonight's Oscars. The Best Actor looks sewn up with Casey Affleck. But I think Viola's name is on the Best Supporting statuette.


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