The Movie: Fences
The Director: Denzel Washington (Antwone Fisher)
The Cast: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, and Mykelti Williamson.
The Story: A black man in 1950's New York trying to raise and hold together a family while struggling with the demons of his own upbringing.
In 2010, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis headlined and starred in a revival of the original stage play which was written by August Wilson and, for 13 weeks, they lived and breathed these characters. 16 years later, they bring that history, experience, and chemistry to the screen in a way that showcases these powerfully talented actors like never before. I'm sure the familiarity with the material helped a lot both with their performances and with Denzel's ability to direct the feature film and the end result is a seamless and nearly flawless drama that pulls you in from the very first scene and doesn't let up until well after the credits are rolling.
This is one of those movies that will stick with you for a long time thanks to the intense family drama as well as the fantastic humor and brilliant dialog. The story is so well written and the characters are so raw and real that, while watching, you feel like you are a part of the family living in the cramped house they call home and hanging out sharing stories and drinks in the sliver of a back yard that feels like the safest place in the world. Washington does a great job of keeping the atmosphere intimate without ever feeling claustrophobic which I'm sure comes from this originally being a stage play and it really gives the actors the opportunity to shine and boy do they ever,
If Denzel Washington doesn't walk away with the Golden Globe and Oscar awards for best actor then the world should just stop rotating and everyone can go home because something just wouldn't be right. I have been a fan of Denzel's, as many people have, for as long as I can remember seeing him on screen and I have to say this is the best work he has ever done as an actor. I know that's a bold statement but I will stand by it as what he has done with this film is truly remarkable work. Troy Maxson is as bold and strong as he is damaged and disillusioned and Denzel is able to draw every ounce of emotion and personality out of the character with that classic Denzel swagger and style firmly in place.
If there was anyone who could go toe to toe with Denzel on stage, it's this woman and she shows why with a performance that nearly matches him step for step from beginning to end. The emotion she can give to any single moment is pretty powerful and, with this role, she embodies the epitome of a strong willed woman that has just as much love in her heart as she does strength in her soul. Add in strong efforts from Stephen Henderson who plays Troy's long time best friend and Mykelti Williamson as Troy's psychologically damaged brother both of whom fit in perfectly as complements to the two main characters.
Fences is a fantastic film and Denzel Washington hits a home run playing a former negro league baseball player who is constantly struggling with a world seemingly set up to see him fail. Packed with powerful performances and tear jerking theatrics, this is a movie that will leave you emotionally exhausted in the most satisfying way.