Popcorn Addict: Fences
Incredible. That's all you need to know.
Fences (the movie) is based on a Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same name written by acclaimed American playwright August Wilson in 1957. The play initially premiered on Broadway in 1987 and featured now well-known actors James Earl Jones and Courtney B. Vance (see an amazing clip here). The play has won several Tony Awards throughout its various productions—with most recent wins in 2010 for Best Rival of a Play, Best Actor in a Play (Denzel Washington), and Best Actress in a Play (Viola Davis).
I have read Fences several times throughout high school and college, so I knew the plot going into the theater. So, I was all in to watch the performances. It was interesting listening to the responses from my mostly packed theater during some of the plot twists—thus, even if you haven’t read the play, it will still be quite enjoyable.
As expected, Denzel (as Troy Maxson) and Viola (as Rose Maxson) were phenomenal. This movie was a master class in acting. Delivering such intense performances is what they do best. Viola gave a few great, standout scenes that left me pained as I left the theater as the doting wife of Troy. Most of the people in my theater were talking throughout the performance (*side eye to all of them* One even apologized to me on the way out), but during Viola’s scenes, you could hear a pin drop. Naturally, Denzel embodied the fallen negro league baseball star who struggles to provide for his family. Even with this dynamic duo, the supporting cast delivered incredible performances. Mykelti Williamson (who also played Bubba in Forrest Gump!) gave an astonishing, funny, and heartbreaking performance as Gabriel, Troy Maxson’s brother who has a severe mental illness. I personally loved Stephen Henderson as Jim, Troy’s loyal best friend.
Additionally, under the direction of Denzel, the cinematography was beautiful. The translation from play to movie appeared seamless. Despite a majority of the movie occurring in one setting, the Maxson’s backyard, it didn’t feel confined. The setting was a throwback to the 50s in the setting, clothing, speech, and culture.
In sum, I highly recommend everyone go see Fences. If you love to binge the Oscar nominated films, you shouldn’t skip out on this one. Again, it is a masterclass in the performing arts that all can enjoy. We’ll be eagerly and anxiously awaiting the rest of awards season! Denzel Washington has discussed the possibility of translating all of August Wilson’s plays to film, and I will be buying a ticket to all of them.