Sunday, February 26, 2017

Review of FENCES: Faults of a Father

February 2017

"Fences" was first a play written back in 1983 by American playwright August Wilson. During its Broadway debut in 1987, it won the Tony Award for Best Play, Best Director, Best Actor (James Earl Jones) and Best Actress in a Featured Role (Mary Alice). It had a very successful revival in 2010, which earned 10 Tony nominations, and won three for Best Revival of a Play, Best Actor in a Play (Denzel Washington), and Best Actress in a Play (Viola Davis).

Denzel Washington directs himself and his theater co-star Davis in this feature film version of this play.  Mykelti Williamson, Stephen Henderson, and Russell Hornsby also reprise their roles from the 2010 production. It has since earned four Oscar nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor (Washington), Best Supporting Actress (Davis), and Best Adapted Screenplay (posthumously for August Wilson). 

Most of the awards it had taken home to date belong to its two stars. Washington had won the SAG for Best Actor, and is thus in tight contention for the Oscar also. Davis had so far won the Golden Globe, SAG Award, BAFTA, and Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress, and is already considered a lock to win the Oscar as well in her category.

The setting is Pittsburgh in the 1950s. Garbage man Troy Maxson is married for 18 years to his self-sacrificing wife Rose. They have a teenage son together named Cory with whom Troy is constantly at odds. Troy was blocking Cory's football career because he was himself a frustrated baseball player in his youth. Their marriage itself will later be threatened by a dark secret that cannot be kept hidden anymore.

The titular "Fence" literally refers to the fence Troy had long been working on in his backyard to keep the devil out of his house. But as the film went on, you can sense so many symbolic fences being built by the characters to form their own little enclosures around them both to keep certain things out and to keep certain things in. 

Denzel Washington became Troy Maxson, embracing all his character's sins and flaws, no matter how despicable these were. Washington delivers his over-the-top lines with such natural verve, no artificiality. Washington's acting style here is directly in contrast with that of his main Oscar rival Casey Affleck in "Manhattan by the Sea". Affleck's attack is purely internal as his character puts on a cool front. On the other hand, Washington's acting is overt but you can still feel his pain inside.

Viola Davis is clearly not Supporting Actress here as her Oscar nomination and other awards labelled her. She should really contending for Best Actress as her character Rose is onscreen practically the same amount of time as Troy. The film talks about their lives as husband and wife. Davis matches Washington's passion scene for scene that they're together. Even her quieter moments brim with deep emotion. We love her Rose as much as we hate Washington's Troy. 

The awesome acting of the cast is really the best aspect of this film. You can sense the theater roots of this film when you hear the overly colorful language and loud acting, but the cast still manages to make it feel so real and relatable. 7/10. 

No comments:

Post a Comment