REVIEW: Fences

Denzel Washington directs and stars in this sensitive and beautiful film based on the play by August Wilson. 

Based on August Wilson’s Pulitzer and Tony award winning play is brought to stunning life in this heartbreaking film that explores guilt, responsibility and an intense father and son relationship.

Troy is  53 years old and seemingly on the surface content with his life with his mediocre job and the love of his supportive wife Rose. But underneath this charming and charismatic surface, there is bubbling resentment that Troy feels because he didn’t get to live out his dreams to becoming a baseball player for a variety of reasons and so he comes down hard on his son Cory who wants to play American football for a living.

This growing resentment and bubbling tension between Troy (Denzel Washington) and Cory (Jovan Adepo) is at the centre of the story, revealing Troy’s fear that his son will end up following his own path and comes down hard on his son because deep down he does care – even if it doesn’t come through as well as it might.

What Washington proves with this film is his deep understanding of Wilson’s work and yet never passes any judgement of the characters involved, to some extent keeping a distance and allowing the audience to come up with their own impressions of the characters.

He has also managed to assemble a brilliant cast, including Viola Davis as Troy’s wife Rose. Her performance is consistently strong and her confrontation of Troy is certainly one of the most powerful and heartbreaking scenes in the film. There is also excellent support from Jovan Adepo as Cory, whose performance shows his character developing in confidence and resentment of his father’s treatment of them all – that last scene in which he finally plucks up the courage to say “I’m not afraid of you anymore” makes the audience want to cheer but equally breaks the heart knowing this is the point at which there is no return for father and son.

Consistently at the centre of things, Denzel Washington as Troy gives the character plenty of depth, exploring all of the elements of his personality with flair and charm – switching between being charismatic to angry and bitter with ease, consistently keeping the audience on their toes. It is a beautifully judged performance.

By setting the majority of the film at the house, it means that the film is focused but also that there is a feeling of claustrophobia which represents Troy’s feeling of being entrapped by his responsibilities, leading him to search for freedom – but meaning that he is in danger of losing everything that he takes pride in.

It is a raw, intense and gripping piece of drama that never loses its way and is treated with great respect by Denzel Washington. A wonderful and thought-provoking watch.

Fences is released in cinemas on the 10th February. 

Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤