By Neil Hazel | Follow @IamNeilHazel
Denzel Washington is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors working in Hollywood today. For the third time in his career, Washington is taking a turn behind the camera directing an adaptation of the 1983 play by August Wilson, Fences. And while Denzel’s Fences is certainly not a achievement in filmmaking, it is the source of two of the greatest performances of the year, as Washington and his co-star Viola Davis deliver emotional, chilling and heartfelt characters that carry the film.
Fences is essentially two hours of Denzel Washington and Viola Davis acting at each other in a house. As a director Washington doesn’t deliver much beyond a straight remake of the play, but the combined performances of the cast, especially Washington and Davis are enough to carry the film through its runtime. The film centers more so on the intricacies of family life than any exciting action sequences. Set in the 1950’s, a baseball player turned garbage man Troy Maxon (Washington), stay-at-home mother Rose (Davis) and their son, Cory, an aspiring college football player, Fences observes the roles that each member of a family plays, and how they interact with each other. Troy is a no-nonsense man that is angry at the world because of his lack of success in the baseball world, which he attributes more to his race than his ability. This leads him to take his bitterness out on his family, refusing to let Cory play football at college and constantly bragging to Rose about how he was meant for greater things. This is how Fences ultimately plays out, with the different members of the family reacting to how Troy deals with his bitterness, Rose is strong but submissive and supportive. Cory is defiant, trying to prove to his father that he is an independent man. Fences has a few twists in it’s story that keep you on your toes, culminating in a back and forth verbal boxing match between Troy and Rose that will have you on the edge of your seat.
While Fences begins to drag about halfway into the movie there are a few knockout monologues throughout the film that carry it to its conclusion. Denzel is almost certain to be nominated with a Best Actor Oscar, and it would be a huge shock if Davis doesn’t leave with Best Supporting Actress. Without these two performances, Fences wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is. But luckily Denzel and Viola play these characters nearly perfectly. Fences is a film that will make you reflect, especially around the holidays. The true meaning of love, family, friendship and commitment are all issues that are prevalent throughout the film. If you are a fan of plays, great acting or an intriguing story, then Fences is for you.