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Fences Movie Review

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fences-movie-review-1Fences Movie review: Denzel Washington takes on mounting Fences from the stage to the screen and serves not only as its lead but as its director. In Denzel Washington’s third directorial feature, he tackles an emotional and significant American story adapted from August Wilson’s play by the same name. Washington reprises his former Broadway role as Troy Maxson, the downtrodden victim of circumstance and of the times. He is joined by his Broadway co-star Viola Davis as Rose, which was a perfect pairing for Washington as Davis can match his intensity and charisma. They are two of the most tremendous actors we have the pleasure of watching, and do this subject and film proud.

Troy and Rose Maxson meet after Troy’s stint in prison and once fruitless baseball career ends, they live in 1950’s Pittsburgh where he has now become a garbage man. The family is rounded out by Jovan Adepo as Troy and Rose’s son Cory, a promising high school football star who can’t do right by his dad no matter how hard he tries. Troy’s friend Bono, played by Stephen Henderson, serves as the voice of reason and mirror to Troy’s past. Troy’s son from a previous relationship, Lyons, played by Russell Hornsby is another son pining for praise. And Mykelti Williamson plays Troy’s brother, Gabriel, whose war injury has impeded him with a brain injury which Troy has taken advantage of. Every character is utilized to showcase a flaw of Troy’s and push him to his limits.

fences-movie-review-2Troy is obviously disillusioned and exhausted with his lot in life, but seemingly provides for his family and is working on building a fence around their home like any decent family man would. At first, the family seems to be doing well and happy as can be, but little by little Troy’s true colors are shown to us. First he is a doting father and husband, but that unravels as the film goes on. My apologies if that is a spoiler, but I think the trailer fills us in to not expect a feel-good film. It is hard to empathize with the protagonist at times. Troy is so hard headed and patriarchal, a sign of the times or maybe as a shield against his circumstances. Cory bears the brunt of this as Troy works to prepare him for the real world. He attempts to keep Cory from following in his athletic footsteps despite the fact that this could lead to a college scholarship and an opportunity to make more for himself. It seems as though Troy is looking out for his son the only way he knows how, but it leaves his son feeling like he is unloved by his father and always on edge. Rose is not immune to Troy’s fits, orders, and restrictions. The family must constantly do as he says, which leads to Troy’s downfall. The illusion of a good family man and provider is stripped away until we see what the man is actually made out of. It is a fall from grace, a classical tragedy.

It is vital for stories like this to continue to be made and seen. For decades we have been restricted to certain facets of the traditional American life and dream, there are some parallels to Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman but the differences matter, the new perspective matters. As we all know from countless statistics and articles, Hollywood doesn’t do a great job of reflecting our diversity. There is no better time than now for film to bridge the gap between racial and cultural divisions, and I think film is the strongest tool for this. Some problems/restrictions of the past and from Fences are being faced now, and through exposure to movies like this we can arouse change. Heads up, it is a long movie!

Fences
Director:  Denzel Washington
Studio:  Paramount
Genre:  Drama
MPAA:  PG-13
Release Date:  December 23, 2016
Author:  Roxy De La Rosa

Roxy de la Rosa Roxy and her dogs are San Diego natives all hailing from Baja. She is a graduate of SDSU with a bachelor's degree in Television, Film, and New Media Production. Roxy is a huge comedy film and sitcom fan who hopes to become a TV writer, but for now she spends her time "researching" Netflix when she should be writing.

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