Friday, March 10, 2017

Fences

Denzel Washington, Viola Davis,
Stephen Henderson, Mykelti Williamson,
Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby


In "Fences" Viola Davis and Denzel Washington play Rose and Troy Maxson, a blue collar married couple in Pittsburgh in the 1950s. Roles they are really familiar with as they enacted them in 2010 in their Broadway revival of August Wilson's 1983 play. She even won a Tony award for her stage rendition.

Well developed and complex characters which give credence to the travails of a working class African American family during an era and in a society where the patriarch always had the last word, no matter if he was right or wrong. Troy Maxson likes to harp on how he was a good baseball player but the color of his skin and his age prevented him from achieving glory. Troy had a very difficult life since childhood and at 53 still labors as a garbage collector trying to make ends meet to provide for his wife, his mentally challenged older brother and two grown sons. 

During that turbulent era, men tend to have a very pessimistic view about the world, their lives and well just about anything and everything. And he is best exemplified through the complex and flawed character of Troy Maxson. Washington is in his elements from his swaggering walk to his eloquently delivered monologues and his depiction made us understand, pity as well as dislike the persona of a man with so much pent up rage, frustration and despair brewing within his egotistical mind.

He is ably matched by Viola Davis as his long suffering yet adoring wife Rose. Her devotion to both Troy and their son Cory is admirable in one sense and also painfully pitiful. She has had a difficult life too and dare I say mostly as a life partner to such an insufferable husband. Yet she still strives and is the glue which keeps that family from self destruction as if their lives is not miserable enough at that stage. Her powerful "What about me? What about my life" soliloquy somewhere towards the end of the film hits you like a ton of brick and pulls really hard at our already broken heartstrings. 

All these praises for the excellent acting of Davis and Washington (as well as the credible performances of the supporting cast) does not make this film, perfect. Denzel's 3rd directed film still has quite a stage play vibe, limiting most of its scenes to the house and backyard area where Troy likes to spew his rants. The last 25 or so minutes of the film felt rushed, cramming in some side plots which were only mentioned in passing during the first half. Perhaps wanting to give more 'air time' to August Wilson's loquacious and dialogue driven script through Troy Maxson's 'outbursts'. 

I can safely say that Viola Davis and Denzel Washington are actors' actor(s) so to watch them act together and opposite each other in a highly moving film is mesmerizing and worth every single penny and minute of our precious time.
 

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