Troy Maxson – Denzel Washington
Rose Maxson – Viola Davis
Cory Maxson – Jovan Adepo
Lyons – Russell Hornsby
Gabriel – Mykelti Williamson
Jim Bono – Stephen Henderson
August Wilson – Play (Pulitzer Prize for Drama) and Screenplay
Denzel Washington – Director
Fences is an original multiple award winning play, the first in a series written by August Wilson called The Pittsburgh Cycle. Each play is set in a different decade of the 20th century and chronicles the African-American experience of that time. The two time Pulitzer Prize winner was able to finish writing the screenplay for Fences before succumbing to liver cancer in 2005. Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, and Jovan Adepo reprise their Tony Award winning performances in this new film. Reportedly, Washington will bring the remaining plays to HBO in the near future as Executive Producer.
Fences, set in 1950s Pittsburgh, spotlights the Maxson family. The Maxsons are a middle class African-American family struggling to keep it together during the beginning of the end of segregation. The patriarch Troy is an uneducated ex-con with failed dreams of major league stardom after a stellar Negro League career. He, by many standards, is making a good living as a garbage man. However he just can’t seem to douse his anger at the racism that he believes left him behind enough to worry about the daily stress of providing for his family. This anger and disappointment eventually gets turned on his sons. Audiences get a look over the fence into the home of an African American family.
Like many families of that decade and even now, you see a man trying to be happy while fighting the demons of his past and present. You see a woman doing it all from sunrise to sunset. You have a son doing all he can to impress his father by wishing to become more, only to be told that it doesn’t matter. Then you have a friend that admires Troy and looks up to him but is willing to shine a light on Troy’s dark doings. Fences shows how similar families were in the 50s as well as the unique African American experience.
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis equally gave brilliant performances, giving it all in every scene. When they are happy, you will feel happy. When they are broken you will feel broken. What makes their performance so great is how well they play off of each other. When Denzel’s Troy goes off on one of his “Big Fish” tales, he wraps you in until Rose, with impeccable timing corrects him and it feels so real. Viewers will grow to love these two even knowing that something will come along that will test their marriage’s resolve. Even the opposite is true with Troy’s relationship with his son, Cory played by Jovan Adepo. Viewers will feel the tension as Troy tries so hard to break his son’s spirit. Cory wants so much to prove to his father that he can achieve his dreams but his father is keen to try and break his spirit and just like any teen, Cory wants to rebel.
Ultimately, this movie is about how life revolves around one person and how others have dreams and how far those dreams can go when one person is dragging down when theirs have failed. it’s about trying to stay happy in the presence of unhappiness. It’s also about what happens when life pitches a curve ball and what happens when one swings for the fences.
Drama rated PG-13
I give this 5 paydays out of 5