Fences (2016)

Director: Denzel Washington
Writer: August Wilson
Based on: his own play
Cast: Denzel Washington, Viola DavisStephen HendersonJovan AdepoRussell HornsbyMykelti WilliamsonSaniyya Sidney
Seen on: 6.4.2017

Troy (Denzel Washington) and Rose (Viola Davis) have been married for a long time. Their son Cory (Jovan Adepo) is 18 and dreams of starting a football career. When a recruiter is taking interest in him, Cory is overjoyed. But Troy, who narrowly missed a career in baseball due to racist hiring practices, doesn’t allow Cory to meet with the recruiter, causing a rift in the family with his continuous attempts to control everything and everyone around him.

Fences is a beautifully acted film that has a couple of lengths and an ending that didn’t work for me, but definitely a film that drew me in regardless.

Fences is peopled with strong characters that are performed perfectly – a rare treat for any film, but it’s especially rare for black people/people of color in general to get this opportunity. That alone makes the film more than worth to experience and watch the cast at work.

Especially Denzel Washington is the star of the show, shaping Troy into a man of sharp edges, hard surfaces and contradictions. That he managed to do so while directing himself adds another level of artistry to the thing and I applaud him for it.

That being said, I didn’t particularly like Troy as a person. I understand where he is coming from, and I feel like I got to know him in the course of the film, but by the end of it, the film tries to sell him as this great man who deserves to be admired or even outright worshipped and I just couldn’t go along with that conclusion. Yes, he certainly had great influence on the people around him and a whole lot of charisma, but he is the quintessential patriarch who doesn’t care what other people think about their own lives and choices, because he knows best and his opinion is the only one that really counts. That is not really a mindset I think much of. And it would have been enough for the film to acknowledge that he meant well, without going all the way to revery.

That ending, coupled with the long runtime of the film that could have been around 20 minutes shorter than it was, left the film with less of an impression than the cast and the characters deseve.

Summarizing: Worth seeing, despite weaknesses.

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