Review: Fences


In 2010, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis helped revive August Wilson’s play Fences and it was nominated for 10 Tony Awards. In 2016, the dynamic duo Washington and Davis have reunited to bring Wilson’s acclaimed story to the big screen.

Set in Pittsburgh during the 1950’s, Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) is an ex-baseball player, turned garbage man, who’s struggling to provide for his wife Rose (Viola Davis) and their son Cory (Jovan Adepo). Troy also keeps an eye on his brother Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson) who was injured during the war.

Troy is frustrated living a boring life and forced to relive his glory days through tall tales while drinking on his porch. Things take a dramatic shift when Troy reveals a crushing secret to Rose.

Denzel Washington not only stars as the film’s main character but Fences is also his first time directing a feature film since 2007’s The Great Debaters. Denzel delivers as only he can. His dramatic pauses, bigger than life personality, intensity, and great timing are perfect. He’s old and gritty enough to bring Troy to life. Troy Maxson is a character Washington was born to play.

Mykelti Williamson, who was laughable earlier this year in The Purge: Election Year, plays a fantastic Gabriel. Williamson gives Gabriel enough comedy and heartbreaking moments to make him a character you care about. If he leans too much either way, he’s annoying every time he pops up.

The real star of the film is Viola Davis. She is the force that drives the film. Davis  has one scene that blows everyone else out of the water. It’s definitely going to be the clip that’s played during the Academy Awards this year. This film is another reminder of how amazing Viola Davis is. She has such an impact on this film with little screen time.

Fences is one of the best play-to-big screen adaptations. It feels very much like a play adapted into a movie, and that’s not a bad thing. The theater structure attached to the film allows for characters to flush out their identities and what their motivations are. The film is well acted, well scripted, and a beautifully told family story.

Grade: A