Fences (2016) is a marvelous home run
|Photo Credit: Fences / Paramount Pictures|
Like most theatrical adaptations, the performances and script deliver all of the emotional action to give a wildly complex study of characters. This is completely true of Washington's adaptation of the August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play.
At the center of this complicated drama is Washington and Davis bursting with restless energy. Imprisoned by the nature of the era, Troy and Rose have raised a family together but their compromises have kept them coiled to each other for good and bad reasons. They share an enduring love tainted by the sacrifices as a husband/wife/mother/father/etc. and the imposed repercussions of the Jim-Crow era.
Troy: It's not easy for me to admit that I've been standing in the same place for eighteen years!Troy and Rose are very different sides of the same coin. Troy waxes philosophical about life, duties, and responsibilities, hammering out tough love to his sons and wife, but fails to recognize the hypocrisy of his actions. Washington brings to life an imperfect man who does despicable things to deal with his existential crisis.
Rose: Well, I've been standing with you! I gave eighteen years of my life to stand in the same spot as you!
As his counterpart, Davis as Rose is a force to be reckoned with. As much as Troy dwells on all that he gives to his family, rarely if ever does he understand how much Rose has given in order to sustain their marriage. Having faced and faces the same trials as he, she's buried her dreams and let them be forgotten, but continued to forge on ahead with a silent resolute nature. Life, and Troy, has taken its toll until the final straw breaks prompt a poignant almost impossible strength.
Impressively, theatrical adaptations of a play often rely on the playwright's work to deliver all of the action - unless the direction or script is drastically altered to be more blockbuster. As Troy's family square off against each other, the script rarely feels like there is a dull moment.
Washington's experience of the play as an actor, and now director and leading role pushes him to he executes how a play of such timely significance could be adapted. The city of Pittsburgh bustles in the background as this nook puts a generational, cultural, and historical experience on display. His focus of the Maxson's family places them solely in a minimalist and intimate environment; their claustrophobic backyard acts as a boxing ring for fights, confessions, criticism and speeches. Wilson's story grows seamlessly into three acts, lending a balanced examination to all of the characters.
Fences is a centerpiece of titanic performances and deliver as an adaptation. Washington executes the story as if you were attending a play on film but stand on its own. His work as a director and the cast is a gripping character study and a marvelous home run.