It’s always fun to watch a previously recorded Broadway play at a movie theater. It’s even more fun when you think you are going to watch a film and it surprisingly is a play. Fences is more like a play than a film, but it’s an artful surprise that actually works. By using a play script, the film is more powerful through the use of emotional monologues.
Fences is playwright August Wilson’s best known work. The film is pretty much the same as the Tony Award winning play of the same name and even features the same five adult cast members (Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, Russell Hornsby, and Mykelti Williamson). The story describes the struggles of being an African American in Pittsburgh in the 1950’s. Troy and Rose Maxson’s, Washington and Davis respectively, family and marriage are tested as the narrative develops.
Washington and Davis are the best parts of the film. Their powerful performances transformed Fences from a good film into a great one. The emotion that they delivered in every line was fantastic, and it makes them both huge awards contenders. I personally think that Washington deserves the Academy Award for Best Actor because he gave the best performance that I have seen out of the potential nominees.
Fences is a special film because it is written as a play. The language, tone, and style is all typical of a play, so be ready for long-winded speeches that might feel out of place. The film is also broken up by different acts and scenes, which also helps to create a play-like atmosphere. The only real difference between the play and film versions is that the film wasn’t filmed on a stage. Other than that, Fences is pretty much a play, which is rare. Films don’t usually come across as a play, so Fences should be celebrated as a successful hybrid this awards season.
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