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Fences Movie Review

It’s time for another movie review presented by our good friends over at FatCats Gilbert on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Baseline! FatCats Gilbert is the best place to check out all of the latest releases at the box office, and they have the best prices to have a blast with the entire family!

As the year closes out, I have one more Oscar contender I’m going to be able to talk about before the year ends, and that’s Fences! Fences was a movie that I’ve heard Denzel Washington may be taking home another Oscar for, and from what I saw in the trailers and television spots, that wouldn’t surprise me one bit. I thought it was interesting that Denzel directed Fences on Broadway and was now getting the chance to put it on the screen, and I’m pretty sure every guy on the planet is a Denzel fan. I haven’t met anyone who isn’t. Anyways, let’s talk about Fences!

Fences is directed by and stars Denzel Washington as Troy Maxson, a man making his way through the 1950s alongside his wife, Rose, played by Viola Davis, his son, Cory, played by Jovan Adepo, and his best friend, Bono, played by Stephen Henderson. Troy is a former baseball player who is past his prime, to say the least, and is getting a good taste for family, race-relations, and love.

I have to talk about where this movie absolutely excels, and that’s in the performances. Denzel Washington is so great in this role, and it’s easy to tell that Troy is a character he has completely accepted into his life and become. As much star-power as Denzel has, I stopped seeing him, and I only saw Troy, this beaten and battered man who has faced the harsh realities of life. What actually surprised me was the fact that I truly don’t believe that Washington gives the best performance in the film. I think Viola Davis steals the film from Washington, and she really gave one of the best performances I’ve ever seen her give. The way this movie is written is with the sole intent of fleshing out these characters, so as the film continues to move, we learn more and more about everybody. As the characters are given more depth, their emotions really start to come out, and each performance gets better and better as the movie goes on. Technically this movie is so great. Denzel Washington directed it so well, and it looks beautiful and is shot very well. I think that a lot of the metaphors for being trapped and contained will work for so many audiences, and they sure worked for me. It just made the movie more and more powerful as I saw the metaphors and little pieces come into place, and I bought into everything this movie was trying to sell me on.

Where I think this movie falters is in the story. The story definitely takes a backseat to the characters, and that could be a positive or negative depending on your taste in movies. I tend to value characters and story equally, so I do enjoy when they feed each other and compliment each other. In Fences, the script feels like it is solely written to serve the characters. It made the characters some of the strongest and most fleshed out we’ve seen this year, but it also held the story back, and at the end of the film, there wasn’t much going on besides the internal ups-and-downs this family faces. Next, I do think that there are points where they couldn’t quite get the play to the screen. There are times where it feels like a play with four walls between all of the entrances, exits, and settings. I don’t think that the film was able to put the magic into this movie that you get when you adapt another medium into a feature film. When a subject is made into a film from another medium, that’s always an opportunity to put the story in a new light with new magic, and Fences struggled in that area.

Overall, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis carry this movie together. It isn’t the best movie of the year, but it is very powerful for the sole reason that it has extremely fleshed out and well-written characters. It feels like the audience is growing right along with the family, and it’s a very emotional journey through the good and bad moments in this family’s lifetime. Where the movie struggles is in the story. The story feels like an afterthought while the single purpose of the movie is to display these characters. It’s tough to sum up the story because the story is the dialogue. It also struggles a bit to transfer from play to movie, and it doesn’t capture a lot of the magic a movie can bring to the table. With entrances, exits, and settings, it feels like a play. This movie does have some of the best performances of the year along with some of the best characters, and Fences will probably be recognized for those two things over everything else. I’m going to give Fences a 7.5/10.

Will you be checking out Fences? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As I did last year, I should be posting my top twenty best movies of the year pretty soon along with my top twenty worst movies of the year, which is something I didn’t get to last year. As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

All images courtesy of Paramount Pictures

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm