A pot to piss in, or a window to throw it out of
Village Jam Factory - Wednesday 15 February 2017, 6:30
Running time: 139m
Country: United States
Release date: 09/02/17
Rating: 8/10 (ME 3.5/5, DP 4.5/5)
Troy (Denzel Washington) is a rubbish collector, living with his wife Rose (Viola Davis) and their son Cory (Joan Adepo) in a humble home in the 1950s. But Troy has a dark past, including son Lyons (Russell Hornsby) from a previous relationship, and a secret which threatens the happieness of them all.
Adapted from the play by August Wilson (as using the screenplay developed by the author before his death in 2005), Fences is an intense human drama set within an inner urban family facing the challenges life presents. The film uses the conventions of a play; it's divided into distinct acts and with static settings, characters enter and exit scenes and it relies heavily on dialogue to transition between the present and unexplored plot elements. It's a very wordy script (we were exhausted after the first fifteen minutes) with lines coming thick and fast, slowly building the plot as elements of a much deeper and darker backstory are pieced together. There's nothing accidental here, and every line is used as a deliberate device not only to progress the plot but to add flesh to the multilayered characters, but I'm undecided on whether the transition from stage to screen was a successful one.
The performances are raw, passionate and very good. Denzel Washington holds nothing back (did I mention we were exhausted?) as he yells his way through much of the film, and award-magnet Viola Davis (will she add to her Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA wins with an Oscar?) brings Rose to life a complex mix of determination and vulnerability. Stephen Henderson as Troy's friend Bono and Mykelti Williamson as Troy's brother Gabe (suffering a brain injury from the war) complete the ensemble in a film that has just as many characters as it needs and none more. A film about fear of failure / growing older / loneliness can be difficult to watch, but it's a great example of how a tight script and well-executed performances can bring a level of extraordinary to the most ordinary of settings.
89th Academy Awards
2017 BAFTA Awards
23rd Screen Actors Guild Awards
74th Golden Globe Awards
6th AACTA Inernational Awards