“Fences” (2016) written by August Wilson, directed by Denzel Washington, starring Denzel Washington & Viola Davis / Z-View

Fences (2016)

Director: Denzel Washington

Screenplay: August Wilson based on his play Fences

Stars: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby,
Mykelti Williamson, Saniyya Sidney, Christopher Mele, Lesley Boone
and Rachelle Beinart.

Tagline:  Some people build fences to keep people out – and other people build fences to keep people in.

The Plot…

Troy Maxson (Washington) is a bitter, angry, 56 year old black man.  Once a talented baseball player, Troy was never given a chance to play in the big leagues due to his race.  Then World War II came.  Now that Troy is older, the color-barrier in baseball has broken.  But Troy is too old to play.  So he makes his living as a garbage collector.  Even there Troy see discrimination.  All the drivers are white.  All the workers doing the heavy lifting are black.

Troy’s wife, Rose (Davis) sees times are starting to change.  Cory (Adepo), Troy and Rose’s son, is a bright student and talented football player.  A college is interested in giving Cory a scholarship, but Troy won’t sign the paperwork.  He wants Cory to get educated in a job that will always provide an income.

Troy sees barriers everywhere and is bitter about how life has treated him, never realizing that he is building barriers for himself and his family as well.  Despite Troy’s flaws, Rose loves him.  Sadly Troy’s choices are going to have terrible consequences for his family and friends.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Fences (2016) was honored at the Academy Awards:

Academy Award Wins:

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Viola Davis

Academy Award Nominations:

  • Best Motion Picture of the Year: Todd Black, Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Denzel Washington
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: August Wilson

“Fences” was first a Broadway play.  It opened in 1987 and went on to win Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Actor (James Earl Jones), and Best Featured Actress (Mary Alice).  “Fences” was revived in 2010.  It won Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Play, Best Actor (Denzel Washington), and Best Actress (Viola Davis).  All five adult actors from the revival reprise their roles in the film.

Although August Wilson is the only credited screenwriter for the film, Denzel Washington, Spike Lee and Tony Kushner did uncredited work.  They didn’t want their names on the credits to insure that Wilson alone received any writing honors or awards.

Denzel Washing and Viola Davis were rightfully nominated for Academy Awards.  Their roles in Fences may be their best performances ever.  Everyone in the supporting cast is wonderful.

It was fun to see Saniyya Sidney as a very young girl.  Sidney would go on to co-star in The Passage a few years later.

Fences (2016) rates 5 of 5 stars.