Based on the Tony-winning Broadway play of the same name, Fences is just as powerful on the big screen.
Directed by Denzel Washington from a screenplay written by August Wilson and based on Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Fences stars Washington, Viola Davis, Jovan Adepo, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, and Saniyya Sidney.
Troy Maxon (Washington) works as a sanitation worker in Pittsburgh. He played baseball in the Negro League but was too old to play in the Major Leagues when they started allowing African-Americans to play in 1947. His lost baseball dreams turn out to be his downfall.
Troy’s emotions are so strong that he drives away those who are closest to him. His youngest son, Cory, doesn’t want anything to do with him.
Fences debuted on Broadway in 1985 and ran for over 500 performances, winning a Pulitzer Prize, a Tony Award, and a New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award along the way. In 2010, five years after Wilson died, both Washington and Davis starred in a Broadway revival and won Tony Awards for their performances.
Their performances in the film are so strong. Paramount was very wise to submit Viola Davis as a supporting candidate seeing as how crowded the best actress race is this year. She’ll get the win this year. Other than a few roles being recast from 2010 for the film, most of the roles are being played by the same actors who portrayed them. It’s because of the chemistry between the cast that the movie works so well.
One could say that Fences is an autobiographical work for Wilson. While some events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes, they are very close to what happened Wilson’s life. Wilson quit the football team, which upset his father, whereas in the film Cory is being recruited by coaches but his father doesn’t want him playing football. His father wants him to get a trade. Where Rose knows the future is changing, Troy is stubborn and doesn’t want to see it because he’s still frustrated over his missed opportunity with Major League Baseball.
After the outcry following last year’s #OscarsSoWhite, movies such as Fences and Hidden Figures are going to make sure that there is some diversity in the Oscar nominations in a few weeks from now.
Paramount Pictures opened Fences in select cities on December 16th before expanding to theaters everywhere on December 25th.