Washington – who also directed the film – brings that little bit extra to his role, and then he brings some more.
The film is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by August Wilson and that comes across in the dialogue, which is witty and sharp. There are scenes that run much longer than they would have in the hands of someone less willing to bring this story about an average man to life, including all his faults and foibles.
Set in 1950s Pittsburg, Fences follows the Maxson family through its struggles with broken dreams – in Troy’s case, that he was deemed too old by the time black players were allowed in the major baseball leagues. He, in turn, holds back his son from playing football.
Matching Washington in his depiction of the everyday battler is Viola Davis as his long-suffering wife Rose. She is incredibly powerful throughout, delivering with sass and pain a woman who has done everything in her power to honour her commitment to her husband.
Washington and Davis have both been nominated for Oscars for their intense portrayals, while the movie has received a nod for best picture and best adapted screenplay.
Fences is not an easy film to watch. It hurts. Every single character carries immense pain and we are allowed to get close enough to feel it, too.
It was Denzel Washington’s involvement in the film that initially sparked my interest – as a teenager, I considered him the hottest thing on Earth. There has been a lot of water under the bridge since then, but he is definitely one of the finest actors and directors working in Hollywood today.
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