It's not always easy bringing a play from the stage to the screen. And even with a powerful cast and Denzel Washington as director, it can still be quite difficult. But with that being said, this film still hits more home runs than strike outs.
Fences is a play turned movie about Troy Maxson (played by Denzel Washington), who makes his living has a sanitation worker in Pittsburgh in the 1950s. He's married to Rose (played by Viola Davis) and they have a son together who is interested in playing football in college. But Troy, himself, once dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. And the fact that he didn't make it to the major leagues has had a longing effect on his strained relationship with his son, whom he does not want following in his footsteps. But in trying to be a better father than the one he had, Troy places more focus on hardened responsibility rather than on emotional attachments.
Most of the film takes place in Troy's backyard, which is where he likes to tell elaborate stories with his longtime friend and co-worker, Bono. This is also the place where his wife, Rose, adds a comedic element by being the voice of reason whenever Troy stretches the truth. One of the best things about Fences is how it was really directed to look like a play. If you didn't know that was its origin, then you would quickly find out within the first few minutes. It's dialogue heavy and doesn't utilize many scene changes. So I thought the was a unique aspect of the movie.
But with that being said, its pro was also its con. Plays tend to be a bit wordy and drawn out, and this movie suffered those same consequences. It would have received a better rating if it were 30 minutes shorter or had a few less diatribes. Or maybe even an intermission would have served it better, like The Hateful Eight.
Side note: If you haven't seen Viola Davis on Inside the Actors Studio yet then you go watch it now! It'll give you some perspective on not only her personal life and her acting career, but also her thought process in this movie.
"Some people build fences to keep people out...
and other people build fences to keep people in."