A working-class African-American father struggles to raise his family
while on the verge of losing them due to his own infidelity and insecurities.
Directed by Denzel Washington
Written by August Wilson
Starring Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson
Based on the stage play by August Wilson
Oscar Wins - Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis)
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Denzel
Washington), Best Adapted Screenplay
Denzel Washington is a renaissance man. One of the finest actors in history, with an eye behind the camera for good measure. His adaptation of August Wilson's Fences is heartbreaking, eye-opening, and incredibly well-acted. It's a story about a man's choices in life and how those choices ultimately lead to the realization of how much that life is worth. It doesn't deal a whole lot with race, despite it being about a black family in the 1950's, but you can feel that specter looming over the Maxson family the entire time. Denzel and Viola are phenomenal as a married couple slowly falling apart, and I applaud Denzel's skill as a director.
Troy Maxson (Washington) is a belligerent, loudmouthed, pathological failure of a man who insists that all his children be as miserable as he is. He hates how little he's achieved in life and resents his son Cory (Adepo) for having a chance to be better. All the while, his wife Rose (Davis) does everything for him at the cost of her own hopes and dreams, and Troy thanks her by cheating on her. As likable as Denzel is, the character of Troy Maxson is a motherfucker, straight up. An absolute hypocritical bastard who digs his own holes and then blames everyone else for holding a shovel. But goddamn, is his performance amazing. Seeing Denzel and Viola trade verbal blows with each other is simply breathtaking, and I'm very glad she won Oscar gold for this one.
Fences forces you to choose a side, but it makes that choice extremely easy if you're not a complete basket case. But we see through Troy's three kids, all from different mothers, that our lives are only as strong as we make them ourselves. We can't blame anyone for our successes or are failures, especially our parents. We make our own paths, and while they are definitely influenced by our upbringing, those paths always diverge for better or worse. Fences really hammers that home.