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Fences by Denzel Washington, 2016

A film adaption of August Wilson’s play bringing Denzel Washington and Viola Davis back to roles they playes in 2010 Broadway Revival. The story of a very angry man and his effect on his family. And though Denzel does manage to bring it out from the backyard where most of the story takes place, it does still feel like a play on film. Still it lets Viola Davis shine. And Denzel is good too, though I feel like he could have dialed it back a bit more for the screen vs the stage. And while interesting I disliked Denzel’s Troy so much that it is a hard watch at times. It is good, though not great, though Viola Davis deserves best actress.


Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) is an angry, angry man living in 1950’s Pittsburg. He is a former Negro Baseball league player, barely getting by as a trash man. He has put in a conplaint with the union as all the white guys are drivers and the black guys hall trash. He works with best friend Jim Bono (Stephen McKinley Henderson who is awesome here) who he brings hone to hang in the backyard, where he is supposed to be building a fence for his wife Rose (Viola Davis). Troys son from a previous relationship Lyons (Russell Hornsby) comes over to borrow money, which pisses him off because he is not taking responsibility. And Troy won’t go see at a clun playing music. Meanwhile Troy and Roses son Cory (Jovan Adepo) is to be scouted for college football, but Troy refuses because of his experience in sports.





We also meet Troy’s mentally troubled brother Gabe (Mykelti Williamson). He lives in his own apartment and wanders around the city. Eventually we learn that Troy’s house is because of Gabe being shot in the head in the war and getting a government payout. Eventually gabe is arrested and Troy has to go in to get him out, but being illiterate signs paperwork that takes half of disability pay each month, and has him put in a mental hospital.


We learn more of Troy’s background, that he was with a woman and had Lyons, but he Troy was a theif and tried to rob a guy with a knife, but the guy had a gun. The guy shot him, but he killed the guy with the knife, and went to prison for 15 years. In prison he met Jim Bono, and learned Baseball, and then joined the Negro baseball league, but never got anywhere he thinks because he is black.


Troy sobotages any chance of Cory playing college football. He won’t ket him quit his afterschool job to play, so ge can’t practise.


Troy wins his complaint at work, and becomes the first black trash driver in the city, though he is illiterate and doesn’t have a driver’s licence. About that time Jim Bono learns that Troy is Cheating on Rose. The two becone estranged over it, and no longer see each at work because of Troy driving now.


Troy has to tell Rose because his girlfriend gets pregnant, he ends up grabbing rose, and Cory knocks Troy into a fence. Troy considers this a second offense, after the football incident, where Cory threw his football helmet and got mad at Troy over football.


Troy’s mistress dies in childbirth, and Troy brings his baby daughter Raynell home. Rose takes her in, but is done with Troy. Troy then comes back and confronts Cory, who tries to blow his estranged father off. It turns into a fight, but Cory is outmatched, and Troy kicks him out of the house, though he himself has already been kicked out.


Seven years later Cory, now a Marine core corporal, returns home for his father’s funeral. He meets the older Raynell (Saniyya Sidney). Cory informs Rose that he is not going to the funeral,, but she says no, and that sone day he should give everything to his child, like Troy did for him, and he agrees to go. Gabe is released from the hospital for the funeral. He prays for St Peter to let Troy into heaven, and the sunlight forms the shape of an angel as light bathes on them.




I really don’t like the ending. As I don’t see that Troy gave anything good to Gabe, nor should Rose think so. And then the whole Angel in the sky thing.


And sure Troy had a tough childhood, being kicked out of his house at 14, and spending 15 years in prison, but it was likely the murder charge more than the being African American that held him back in baseball. And his life is getting better, getting to drive garbage trucks instead of just haul trash. And it does not give an excuse to bot ever see his eldest son play music, or to stop any chance of his younger son going to college on a football scholorship. Nor an excuse for cheating on his wife.


And the whole building a fence metaphor. To save the family from the outside word, and for Troy his unsuccessful attempt to keep death away. Too much for me.


Still Viola Davies is amazing. As i said I don’t get the character defending Troy at the end, but her pergormance is unbelievably good. And Stephen McKinley Henderson is great.


A good film, but a bit too much of a pkay on film for me.

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