As I was watching “Fences,” I felt like I was watching a play. In fact, it is based on a Broadway play by August Wilson, who also wrote the film’s screenplay. You can tell by the dialogue, the long conversations, the pure drama, and the situations the characters deal with. On par with “Moonlight,” “Fences” is another excellent African American drama is year. In fact, it’s one of the year’s best films.
Denzel Washington directs and reprises his role from the play as Troy Maxon, a garbage man, who pontificates with his good friend Jim Bono (Stephen McKinley Henderson) about the kind of life he leads with his wife Rose (Viola Davis also reprising her role) in the 1950s. He has two sons from two different women: Lyons (Russell Hornsby), a struggling musician, and Cory (Jovan Adepo), a college student, who is thrilled to be on the football team, but is denied by his father, who thinks that sport will get him nowhere. Especially since, he, himself, was unfit to play in Major League Baseball.
The movie continues to unfold issues. One example is when Troy’s crazy brother Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson) is committed to an insane asylum for disturbing the peace about his religious rantings. Another is when he tells Rose about him having an affair with another woman, whom he got pregnant. And Cory confronts him for holding him back-knowing he would be a better person than he is.
The Denzel Washington I know and love is back, and “Fences” is his best movie in years. He was fine in “The Equalizer” and “The Magnificent Seven,” but not this fine. He acts like he is on a Broadway stage, which he was, and he crafts one of the best characters he has ever played. If you loved Viola Davis in “Doubt” and “The Help,” then you’ll love her in this movie, and I especially love the scene when she shouts at her husband: “I’ve been standing in the same spot as you.” And as for Jovan Adepo, I see big things in his future. You couldn’t ask for a drama with a beautiful look, a dramatic feel, and a fresh ensemble, and “Fences” has it all.