Fences – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Fences – 4/5 –  Within the concept of storytelling; there are things that can only be describe as emotionally driven.  The thought to be dramatic sticks strong no matter how a story is adapted.  With the concept of a film being based on a play; the first thing to come to mind is that it will be emotionally driven.  No matter the story; it is that connection to the audience which will make the experience worth your time.  Fences (directed by Denzel Washington), tackles many thoughtful themes in a way that shows human character in its most raw detail.  Even for some predictability and common tropes; Fences is a dramatic character study that showcases the best within storytelling.

Premise: A father struggles with race while raising a family during the 1950s

Being based on a play, the focus is on its characters.  You can refer to the full list on the IMDb page; but in the main cast you have:

Denzel Washington as Troy Maxson

Viola Davis as Rose Maxson

Stephen Henderson as Jim Bono

These three do a marvelous job in bringing to life these characters.  The heart of each are deeply evolving as each actor/actress springs to life touching moments through enticing dialogue.  As this is a play to film adaptation; the connections of the characters come from the emotional forbearance of their interactions.  The strength is in that communication; where you feel a strong, relevant thread to each of the three characters.  With much of the story revolving around general ‘family life’ situations, these three do a good job in creating a middle path of genuine detail with dramatic charm.  The hard nose but stern Troy, the kind but honest Rose and the hardy but trusting friend in Jim; all three are layered through thought, flaws and convictions.  You become a part of their emotional roller coaster of trying to live every day.  You get to see the true talent that Washington, Davis and Henderson bring to this film.  For the rest of the cast; they are the basic archetypes you find in any kind of dramatic tale.  Notwithstanding the commonality; they help flesh out the family dynamic (to an extent).  Even for their sparse use, they never hinder take away from the amazing job of the other three.

The direction follows the basic outline of a typical play.  As this is an adaptation of the same work, it is something that you would expect to see in the translation.  You get that repetitive motion of ‘scenic’ and ‘momentary’ expositions that are followed by some ‘dramatic’ takeaway that creates a problem/flaw/purpose to move the characters to the next scene/act.  Even with this approach; Denzel Washington (Director) does a great job in blending thematic detail with the witty, strong and endearing script.  He gives a delicate vision of truth on the big screen.  There is nothing that drags the film down in melodrama within the emotional accord presented in the ‘family conflict’ trope; but there isn’t anything that goes beyond to show a sense of a unique experience.  The flow and precision comes from the characterization of love, life and choices; one that is brought (convincingly) through the lens of many familiar things people face every day.  Even as this film is set during the 1950s; you feel the pressures and struggles within each individual.  Washington does a great job in giving a visual tone of trying to do what is right against all levels of circumstance.  No matter if its Troy struggle’s with work/family of Rose’s struggle to be a good wife/mother; you feel the tension rise and fall like it was your own reflection.  The strength in the acting helps keep the film purposeful and moving forward.  Once you hit those certain ‘dramatic’ takeaways, you get a sense of the typical techniques of directing a film.  Predictable outcomes and convenient plot devices are obvious and brings you out at times; but it never hurts the purpose of the overall ‘family’ dynamic.  Once you hit the final stretch; the film blesses you with an honest approach of an epiphany like epilogue.  It is one that brings all the characters to realize the ‘tough’ and ‘raw’ detail of living.  The final scenes show why choices matter to bring the good out of all.  This bring a poignant thread to the basic storytelling; one that helps end the film on a high note.

The visuals are very strong in its single aesthetic appeal.  Keeping to the attributes that makes this story ‘first’ a play; the film keeps the cinematography to the background.  With the visuals being a support to the ‘family’ setting, it allows the characters to progress the story.  The score is somewhat mute at best; but it isn’t a big part of the film’s experience.

Fences is a strong dramatic tale; one that is going to bring in a lot of award consideration.  With a great vision from Denzel Washington, you get a strong and emotional story.  Even with the predictable bits throughout, you won’t be disappointed.  If you’re a fan of the actors/actresses and like play styled stories; this is one for you.  This is worth the full price and a good time at the theaters.

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