BY THE COMMANDER
2½ (out of 4 stars)
Written by August Wilson and directed by Denzel Washington who also stars in the lead role of Troy Maxson, Fences is a highly dramatic piece that should have been left as a Broadway show than a major motion picture.
This is a very slow moving examination of an African American working class family trying to raise his kids in the 1950s. As he deals with events in his own life, one which is building a fence around his small urban property, he has also built fences isolating himself from his family. Constantly combating his family's points of view, Maxson pushes himself further apart from his wife and sons. As stated in the movie "some people build fences to keep people out, and other people build fences to keep people in". This is the premise of the story.
While Denzel Washington turns in a wonderful performance in the lead role of Troy Maxson. Viola Davis, portraying the role of his wife Rose Maxson, an accomplished actress, is wonderful in her performance as well. The whole cast does a great job. They started with a wonderful strong script (it opened on Broadway in 1987, won the Tony award for best play and best actor James Earl Jones). A revival opened in 2010 winning best revival with best actors going to Denzel Washington and actress Viola Davis. It's no wonder why the five adult actors all reprised their roles in this film adaptation.
The problem with this film lies in the directing. While it is the Director’s job to bring the characters to life on screen, his job is also to enhance the overall story. This part is weak. Since most of these actors were familiar with their roles, Denzel must have thought to simply recreate the Broadway play. But that does always work on film. Unlike a 2-dimensional stage, a film is 3 dimensional where the audience can look at all sides and then some. The camera (audience) moves instead of being stationary. It was the stationary style of cinematography and heavily driven dialogue that I felt unappealing in this film adaptation.
I liked this movie but I felt watching it in theaters was not a requirement. It would have played just as well in your home theater system. Save your money, sit back in your nice easy chair and watch the film from the comfort of your home. The movie is intense so you'll be glad you watched it in sanctuary behind the safety of your own fences.