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fences-1Fences (2016)

Directed by Denzel Washington

Written by August Wilson

Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Mykelti Williams, Jovan Adepo, Stephen Henderson

A working-class father and his family begin to come to terms with his life and the decisions he’s made.

fences-10This film is the third feature directed by Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington (Philadelphia). The story is based on the stage play written by August Wilson (The Piano Lesson). Wilson also wrote the screenplay for the movie adaptation. In addition to directing, Denzel Washington also starred in the movie alongside Viola Davis (The Help). Mykelti Williams (Con Air), Jovan Adepo (The Leftovers) and Stephen Henderson (Lincoln) are also featured. This film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture.

fences-12This story is essentially the examination of one man’s life and the lessons learned by those around him. While the plot is somewhat loose, it’s also unimportant to the message of the story. The writing does a wonderful job introducing all sides of this complicated work-class family. As the film progresses the truth behind each of the people involved is slowly revealed. With each new revelation there is a new level of emotion.

fences-9This plays nicely thanks to very strong dialogue. The story does leave a lot for the audience to fill in. This allows for the payoffs in the story to come together with an unexpected punch. This is not a story to be taken lightly. There are certainly light moments, but it comes with a deep emotional current. August Wilson was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on this film.

fences-7This film features incredible performances by the small cast. Denzel Washington gives a great performance as the aging and often conflicted patriarch. Davis does an equally good job playing opposite Washington. Their chemistry adds a level of authenticity to the story in this one. Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo and Mykelti Williams also do great work in this one. Adepo did an exceptional job holding his own in scenes with Davis and Washington. His performance really adds something special to the experience. Each of the characters in the film is complex and unique, and the cast seemed to embody those qualities perfectly. Denzel Washington earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, while Viola Davis was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

fences-8This movie uses a number of small sets and locations which are designed to create a small slice of the 1950s. The work is good, and the authenticity of the moment feels great. The camera work and the other visual aspects of the movie all work nicely with the story. The film also features a good score by Marcelo Zarvos (The Good Shepherd).

fences-6This is a powerful emotional drama that seeks to dig deep into the lives of the characters. Fans of Washington and Davis should make sure to see this one. I would also suggest this to fans of emotional dramas like Ordinary People. This is not a light drama, so come prepared for something intense. I give this one 4.6 out of 5 stars.

Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 139 Minutes


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