Fences (2016): Based Upon the Play by August Wilson

Posted: February 26, 2017 in Drama

Troy Maxson was a sanitation worker who was seeking opportunity to move up in the world. While living a simple life, he had a specific vision for his relationship with his wife, Rose, and his son, Cory. He had dreamed bigger, but was kept down due to the slow progress of desegregation in professional athletics. His love for Rose was something that sustained him, but he struggled with alcoholism and desiring for something a little more. His wandering eye left him stranded with an affair that threatened to tear apart his family.

Conflict of Interest: Troy’s character was a complicated one. While he had once dreamed of being a ballplayer, he was held back because of his age. Though his son had natural abilities and had a recruiter interested in pursuing his potential, Troy felt a loss of control and wanted nothing to do with his son getting his hopes dashed. He felt like keeping his son within his purview while he pressed on to get a promotion within his career.

Rough Around the Edges: Troy’s personality was not an easy one to fully accept. He was at constant odds with his son, preventing him from seeking his dream of playing professional ball. He took forever to complete the fence in the backyard because he could barely tear himself away from chatting up his best friend or going out for a drink. He even had the devotion of his wife in the face of infidelity and a child not her own. She accepted his flaws and tried to help their son understand them.

Intensity as Art: If anything, the takeaway from this film could simply be that Viola Davis and Denzel Washington are phenomenal actors. Viola mixes a sense of love, devotion, strength, and compassion. When Troy pushes Rose to the limit, Viola’s presence helped to encapsulate the enduring power of women. For Denzel, he was able to be a compelling villain to his son and completely human in error.

Final Verdict: This play-on-screen was deeply moving and authentically human. The acting was astonishing and the simple story was actually anything but. It may be a bit dry for some, but there was complexity in the challenges of family dynamics.

Dan’s Rating: 4.5/5


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