Directed By: Denzel Washington
Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis
My Rating: 9 out of 10
Denzel Washington is an actor that I have loved for years. His performances in films over the years has already cemented his iconic status within the industry and so to hear he was venturing further into directorial duties had me excited. I was excited because if this man could transfer the energy that he has put into his roles over the years into his directing, then we could be in for something special. Fences does not disappoint.
This was not an easy film to take on either. Fences is actually a play turned into a movie, it was never meant for cinema, therefore it could easily suffered, but the performances are simply staggering. Only a couple of days ago we gave out #theNERDIES for our favourites of the year and for best performance I safely popped in my choice of Viggo Mortensen in Captain Fantastic. This was a safe bet, I was not thinking anything left for this year could possibly beat that stellar performance, how wrong I was. Both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis smash performances in this movie that are, by far and beyond, some of the best acting I have seen in any year, not just 2016.
This is a classic movie, it truly is. It has certain scenes that are so gripping, you are on the edge of your seat. Scenes that I know for sure will stay with whoever sees them, for years on end. They are truly special and they are so quotable, which gives an iconic feel from the moment you bare witness to them. A line in which Viola screams “What about my life?” will stand up with any from such masters of film like “The Godfather”.
It's sad, funny, dramatic, gripping, heartbreaking and is heaped full of meaning about race, family, love, life and death. The story follows Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington), a former Baseball player who was never allowed to play major league because of his race. Despite this set back, Troy has set out doing everything he could to put a roof over his family's head. Trying to steer his children the right way, teaching them that life is about providing and not pursuing a dream which you will not be allowed. Despite “times being different now” as his family continue to tell him, he is stubborn in his ways, which is causing massive problems with his family, not least his young son Cory, who he is preventing from pursuing his own dream of playing football. Viola Davis plays his wife Rose and I have to say, I think her performance actually is better than Denzel himself, as she visibly struggles to keep her family together amongst all the arguments.
If I had anything bad to say about it, it would simply be that there are a few moments where it is easy to tell this has been adapted from a play. Purely on movement and location within scenes, of which there are very few. It barely strays from the family house, the yard and the street outside and though in some scenes this seems strained slightly, for the most part Denzel gets this spot on and the big performances on screen simply dazzle within these small spaces. This is very much a performance driven film which delivers massively and aside from the two leads there are strong performances from Jovan Adepo and Russell Hornsby, who play Troy's sons, also a brilliant performance from Mykelti Williamson who plays brother Gabriel who suffers from post war mental health issues.
It's majestic from all involved and the feel of the movie just seems so authentic, which again we have to credit Denzel with delivering. Simply put, this is a movie that you just have to watch if only for the two superb lead performances from Viola and Denzel however, I guarantee you will also be gripped by the fantastic story written for the stage via August Wilson and you will be hooked by the authentic atmosphere created by Washington’s direction. So excuse the rather obvious baseball reference but Denzel has hit a home run with this one and I expect quite a few big nominations for this when the big award ceremonies start announcing later this month. Stunning!