Friday, December 30, 2016

Black Wives Matter: Like Its Characters, “Fences” Feels Boxed In

Transition from stage to screen can be a tricky thing. “Fences,” a story about an African American patriarch struggling to provide for his family in 1950s Pittsburgh, is based on a Pulitzer Prize and Tony winning play, but doesn't quite feel right as a film. Though I have no familiarity with the source material, the story, which features a family struggling to keep together in racially charged America, feels sort of constrained. “Fences,” directed by Denzel Washington, is filled with dramatic performances and long-winded monologues. That usually works for a live audience but can feel tedious to moviegoers, especially when the filmmaking doesn't feel very modern or innovative. While it's always good to see diversity make it to American theaters, “Fences” relies too heavily on an unlikable main character and a stagey production that lacks cinematic prowess.

Denzel Washington, who won a Tony award for the role of Troy Maxon revives the role onscreen to good results. He gives a full-bodied committed performance. He works as a garbageman who has two sons, with different women. Viola Davis plays his devoted wife Rose. Troy isn't a horrible person; flawed for sure, but he certainly isn't very likable. He knows his life hasn't gone the way he wanted. He speaks in baseball metaphors since he's a failed major leaguer. He didn't make it, not because of his skills, but because of the color of his skin. It has understandably left him a bitter man. He has a contentious relationship with his teenage son Cory (Jovan Adepo – every bit as good as his parental costars) who wants to play football much to his dad's disapproval. Troy's disabled brother (Myketti Williamson) is an added burden in Troy's life, as is his eldest, estranged musician son Lyons (Russell Hornsby) who's always asking for money. It's easy to see how disappointed Troy is in his life, who spends a good portion of the film building a wooden fence around his backyard. His drinking is a problem as is his vocally abusive tone. He's unlikable and almost all too realistic.

Washington absolutely knows how to direct actors. He is a double Oscar winner after all. His visual eye is less impressive which makes the film feel as boxed in as its characters. It makes sense. There's no real reason to explore the world outside Troy's household. The film is confined which reflects the weathered characters. Davis is outstanding as usual and is in full Oscar mode. It amazes that the actress has spent so many film roles as wives and maids. She's always revelatory; one day she'll get a juicy role that more appropriately fits her true talent. The entire ensemble is engaging. But perhaps the screenplay by the late August Wilson, who adapted his own play, doesn't quite make the electrically charged story the play allegedly was.

“Fences” is an important piece of art and it's essential that it exists. However, I couldn't quite connect to the story or characters. That isn't to say you must be African American to connect to a story about African Americans, but this film just didn't work for me. It's stagey trappings were too obvious and the film focuses on long winded dialogue that just doesn't feel right in a modern film production ("Moonlight," "Doubt," and "August Osage County" are terrific adaptations of intimate character-driven plays). It's not a coincidence that the screenplay was finished by Wilson before his death in 2005. “Fences” will work for some and won't for others, but no one will deny the great performances or how important films like these are being made.  GRADE: B-  


花无缺 said...

20170402 junda
coach outlet online coach factory outlet
ray-ban sunglasses
ralph lauren
coach outlet clearance
mulberry handbags
yeezy boost
oakley sunglasses
ray ban sunglasses
giuseppe zanotti outlet
chrome hearts outlet

Unknown said...

nike store uk
cheap basketball shoes
nike outlet store
salvatore ferragamo
packers jerseys
true religion jeans
saints jerseys
michael kors handbags
nike huarache
browns jerseys

龙大猫 said...

michael kors factory outlet
hogan outlet online
kobe 11
nike air force 1
yeezy shoes
chrome hearts online store
nike air max thea
yeezy boost
cheap jordans
lacoste online shop

Gege Dai said...

true religion outlet
rolex watches
kate spade
mcm outlet
nike roshe run
cartier watches for sale
oakley sunglasses wholesale
coach outlet online
ralph lauren

John said...

louis vuitton purses
fitflops clearance
kate spade outlet online
beats by dre
patriots jerseys
gucci outlet online
adidas yeezy boost
jordan femmes pas cher
true religion outlet store
cheap air jordans

adidas nmd said...

coach outlet
moncler outlet
new york jets jerseys
ugg boots
christian louboutin shoes
ugg outlet
toms outlet
oakley sunglasses
air jordan 4
air jordan 4

郑佳颖 said...

yeezy shoes
under armour curry 3
led light up shoes
nike huarache
nike air force
nike dunks
lacoste polo
nike air max 2016
kobe 11
air force ones

raybanoutlet001 said...

birkenstock sandals
christian louboutin outlet
kate spade outlet
seahawks jersey
ray ban sunglasses
baltimore ravens jerseys
cheap snapbacks
coach outlet store online
arizona cardinals jerseys
chicago bears jerseys

adidas nmd said...

broncos jerseys
detroit lions jerseys
packers jerseys
nike roshe run
coach outlet store online
cheap jordan shoes
coach outlet
uggs outlet
michael kors handbags
ralph lauren outlet

jeje said...

curry 3
nike air max 90
nike huarache
adidas tubular UK
hermes bag
nike air force 1 low
tory burch shoes
air jordan shoes
new england patriots jerseys

Obat Herbal Infeksi Usus said...

This article is interesting and useful. Thank you for sharing. And let me share an article about health that God willing will be very useful. Thank you :)

Cara Mengobati Sinusitis
Cara Mengatasi asam Lambung
Cara Mengobati Usus Buntu
Khasiat dan manfaat QnC Jelly Gamat
Cara Cepat Mengobati Amandel
Cara Mengobati ruam Kulit pada Bayi

Yaro Gabriel said...


ralph lauren uk
canada goose jackets
pandora charms outlet
ray ban eyeglasses
polo ralph lauren outlet
coach outlet
longchamp bags
kate spade
adidas shoes
adidas yeezy

jeje said...

ugg outlet
prada handbags
hogan shoes
adidas shoes
nike tn
true religion jeans
ugg outlet
ralph lauren
louboutin shoes

ww we w said...

goyard handbags
jordan sneakers
lebron 15
goyard bags
yeezy boost 350
links of london
lebron shoes
adidas yeezy
hogan outlet
jordan shoes