Friday 10 February 2017

Fences - Review


Certificate 12A

Screenplay by August Wilson
Directed by Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington and Viola Davies

A cinematic powerhouse which is as refreshing as it is honest, August Wilson’s work is transformed into an understated masterpiece in its adaptation for the big screen. 

Set in the 1950s, Denzel Washington is Troy, a father battling his inner demons against a backdrop of a nation divided by race issues and a society where change is not only in the air but tantalisingly just around a corner too. A former baseball virtuoso who was born “too early” and who now his son wants to pursue his talents in college sport, brings to the surface in Troy, conflictions and qualms about doing right by his son which set in motion some deeply human narratives  about the challenges faced by African Americans at the time.

Raw and intense but not judgmental, Fences makes clear that Troy is a deeply flawed man. But what is also clear is his unwavering love for the things he holds dear in his life even if, tragically, he may not be able to understand or come to terms with the good inside him. August Wilson’s script is a solid piece of masterful writing and this film showcases the raw talent of the on-screen actors that bring the work to life. Viola Davies’ performance is terrific, providing an emotional core to the story yet remaining the bedrock of strength in the family.

Award nominations are raining down on this picture and where sometimes such such hype and admiration can be exaggerated, in Fences they are all throughly deserved. Every scene evidences that the movie is a labour of love, with the cast displaying an ease and naturalness about their roles that almost suggests that they had been previously acquainted with their characters. Indeed, speaking to me a few weeks ago, Washington emphasised that when the opportunity to translate the play into a movie arose, he was insistent that his fellow actors were cast from the Broadway production, a decision that has clearly paid off.

Denzel Washington’s Fences could well be looked upon in future years as something much more than a mere great adaptation, but as a cinematic classic in its own right.

Fences is now screened at cinemas nationwide

Reviewed by Josh Kemp
Photo credit: David Lee

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