Review: Fences (2016)

Viola Davis and Denzel Washington! WOW! Just wow! At least that’s what I thought and expected. After sitting through „Fences“ for, what felt like forever, I am not quite sure what I enjoyed less. Denzel’s character Troy or his directing.

Going into a movie not knowing anything about it, is most times very refreshing. No expectations, no bad reviews that already ruined your mood, just being open and receiving what’s up their on the screen. Okay, good. Going in without ANY expectations nowadays seems quite impossible. It starts with the star cast and ends with the, in this case, reviews printed on the poster. Still, I at least didn’t know anything about the story…and that it was play. (Mistake on my part there.)

„Fences“ tells the story of Troy Maxson, an African-American working class man who tries to raise his family in the 50s while coming to terms with his past. Directed and starred by Denzel Washington „Fences“ is a chatty but static film. While main character Troy talks at a word count of seemingly „never shutting up“, the use of space and especially staging seemed off for a film. The directing was all over the place and in a way it felt like watching a play with close-ups and long aerial shots. Well directed for a play, I want to see something different when going to the movies. The film was slow and too noisy for my taste. There was no flowing camera, except for the shots made from a dolly, and all in all it had a very agitated feel. When this was the purpose, it was achieved perfectly.

I would have loved to see this on stage in 2010, with the same cast, but sadly the screen version didn’t cut it for me.

The only glimmer of hope was the powerful delivery of Viola Davis, who, honestly, played Washington against the fence…ehm wall. The use of close up and emotion was perfect for a film and seemed to be the one scene made for the screen. Why Denzel Washington is nominated as Best Actor and Best Director at the Globes is beyond me. But opinions and perceptions can vary, so mine’s just different. I simply hope that the Tony stays Denzel’s only award for portraying Troy Maxson, while Viola should definitely receive her Award as „Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama“ this Sunday.

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