Roots and Fences: A Generational Story of Friends, Family and Disability

Watch 3 Clips from 'Fences' - Including the Scene That Just Might Win Viola Davis Her Oscar
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While August Wilson wrote the screenplay himself before passing away in a little uncredited work was done on it by Tony Kushner, who settled for a co-producer credit , it's still no small feat to take something designed for the small stage putting it on a film screen. A while the film is still more than a bit obvious, I think Washington really did as much as he could to make it as a good a movie as it could be.

There are few real scenes and constant talk, but there's just as much constant motion. Characters walk down a crowded street, transition through the house, come in and off screen organically. It gives a similar effect as if a long scene was done in take. But none of this would matter if it weren't for the impeccable set design. Taking place in the actual Hill District of Pittsburgh that was so important to Wilson's stories, the recreation of the s feels almost too alive.

The back alley where the eponymous fence is being built is very reminiscent of the set of Rear Window, perhaps smaller in scale, but feeling no less lived in. Fences is a film built upon quite a pedigree, but what is it about?

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I believe that Fences is a story about masculinity. In the film, masculinity provides. It helps you ensure that get what you are owed. But masculinity also takes. Troy Maxson Washington is an old man obsessed with what he believes the world owes him. The world owed him glory in sports. The world owed him a better profession.

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A better standard of living. He even believes that the Grim Reaper owes him life. Even though there are legitimate arguments as to why he never obtains these things, we can still say that they are fair wishes. But as the movie progresses, we see that when he tries to take the things he's owed, he doesn't necessarily think about who he's taking from or what they are owed. Due to its strict adaptation, Fences is extremely dense in its amount of talking compared to other films.

The depth this gives to its characters and sheer literature value certainly goes a long way to cement Fences as one of the smartest films of the season. But I have to be a little self-aware and recognize that as a source of entertainment, Fences probably appealed to me mostly as a man who enjoys the stage.

Others might not be as indulgent with it as I am. I didn't like this movie as much as I expected to. The movie centers around Troy Maxon Denzel Washington , a father to two boys of different mothers, a husband to Rose played wonderfully by Viola Davis for the past 18 years, an ex-con, a garbage man, and above all, an ordinary black man in the 's.

No doubt it was a powerful script that most likely created an incredible play but it was not meant for the screen. It was obvious that it was a play, in the way they spoke and entered a room and carried themselves in a scene. It's not like it needed any major changes, just a few here and there to improve clarity. The passage of time confused me throughout.

A scene would end and it would be the next day, then a minute passes and it abruptly jumps to six months later with no indication.

This could be a statement on how his life passed quickly and routinely, but it felt like a swing and a miss for me. Viola Davis was wonderful.

She deserves every award coming her way. I could sing songs of praise about how magnificent she was. Denzel Washington was certainly egging for an Oscar as he did what he did, but that's not degrading his performance. He did do good, but it was a bit distracting when he stole the show and didn't really let the other actors bounce off each other and him as much. It was all about him. Even though I constantly found myself criticizing this movie, I did like it. It had a magnitude that I cannot explain, otherwise I would've given it a much lower rating.

I recommend this if you are willing to. I will warn you, it is tough to sit through a movie with no one to root for. Washington's character is not a good person and very unlikable, you don't really want to cheer him on. This film is about a man. A man who carries the burden of generations of hardship, who couldn't fulfill his own greatest dreams because of the oppressive context in which he lived and who tries to close himself off from the world with fences.

Tragically, in closing himself off he loses site of the changing times, he boxes his loved-ones in, and he creates an oppressive environment that emulates everything he tried to guard against. The timeless question lies within this story adapted from a Pulitzer winning play is: can we hate a man like this? Or, when we consider his circumstances and trials, is he a hero to admire?

It's worth seeing and is worthy of praise. If not from the acting particularly Viola's , from the captivating and poetic screenplay. Every word uttered seems calculated by the mind of a genius. The acting in this film is outstanding. Denzel and Viola are truly at their best and the consistency with which they convey the depth of emotion required of them in this film is outstanding.

To me, this was the best part about the film.

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It was a little difficult to sit through this one, mostly because it is a movie in which not much happens. Don't mistake this as a comment from someone who loves action-packed movies although I do sometimes , but rather it plods along and neither has very high highs or very low lows.

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As such, I drifted in and out of the story and was still able to keep up. It is important story to tell, but I can see how it was potentially better as a play.

It is definitely worth seeing, if nothing else for the superb acting. Greetings again from the darkness. Just about any use of words you can think of serves some part in this screen adaptation of renowned playwright August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize and multiple Tony award winning stage production. It first hit Broadway in with James Earl Jones and Mary Alice in the leads, and the revival starred Denzel Washington and Viola Davis — both who reprise their roles for the movie version.

It's also the third directorial feature from Mr. The story takes place in mid's Pittsburgh and is a family drama character study centered on patriarch Troy Maxson Washington , a former Negro League star and ex-con, who now works days on a garbage truck before coming home to his wife Rose of 18 years Ms. The Friday night after work ritual finds Troy holding court in his backyard with his best friend and co-worker Bono Stephen Henderson , as they share a bottle of gin and pontificate on the injustices that have landed them in this place and time. Another regular Friday occurrence is the drop-in of Troy's son by his first wife.

Lyons Russell Hornsby is a musician who shows up on payday for a "loan" from dad. To say there is tension between the two would be an understatement, and it's the complex relationships between Troy and everyone else that is the crux of the story. Another player here is Troy's brother Gabriel Mykelti Williamson , who periodically wanders by talking about battling demons and hellhounds. See, Gabriel suffered a severe head injury during WWII and now has a plate in his head but no real place in society.

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Troy is a proud and bitter man, unwilling to acknowledge that the world is changing. Instead he holds firm to his belief that the white man will always hold back the man of color. It happened to him in baseball though actually he was too old by the time Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers and he refuses to believe Cory can succeed in football despite his being recruited by a college. There is magic in the words of Austin Wilson, and as a film, this is a true acting clinic.

The performances keep us glued to the screen in each scene. Denzel is a dominating presence, and the single best moment belongs to the terrific Viola Davis. Her explosive release conveys the agony-of-the-years, the broken dreams, and the crushing blow of broken trust. As a viewer, we aren't sure whether to stand and applaud her or comfort her with a warm hug. The only possible criticism might be that the stage roots are obvious in the film version. The theatrical feel comes courtesy of the sets which are minimal and basic with no visual wow factor.