Retire Mechanical engineer. Student at California State university Channel Island studiyingAbout Me

January 23, 2017

Review of the movie, "Fences"

Where do you find a slice of life? The perfect upbringing of President Trump’s children? Life at an IHOP restaurant at 2.00 am in the morning? Or, maybe both? 

“Fences” is a slice of life, real life in America, although we were once taught to believe that only white folks were entitled to a house and a job.

Originally a play on Broadway written by August Wilson, Mr. Willson can claim his rightful place alongside other masters such as Eugene O’Neill, Edward Albee and Tennessee Williams.

“Fences” is now a movie, directed and starring Danzel Washington. His powerful presence and performances rate him as one of America’s most imposing character actors alongside other masters such as James Earl Jones and Sidney Poitier. I have not seen the play, but have just finished watching the movie, and it is impossible to emotionally detach one’s self from the power and the depth of it. 

As both director and star, Denzel has created one of the most powerful dramas I have ever feasted my eyes on. Of course the director and the actor are only as good as the writer who created this masterful play. It all works and comes together blissfully.

The movie portrays the everyday life of an African-American family in 1950’s Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. Danzel’s character, Troy, is a garbage collector whose life has seen hard times since his teenage years. He wants to instill life-visions opposite his own to his children, although the times has changed.

Other characters include Troy’s wife, Rose, played by Viola Davis, and Troy’s friend, Bono, played by Stephen McKinley Henderson. Troy reminisces with his friend Bono about wrestling with death itself while sharing a bottle of gin.

Troy’s seventeen-year-old son, Cory, played by Javon Adepo, wants to play football, but Troy won’t have it. Raynell, played by Saniyya Sidney, is Troy’s oldest son. He is a musician and tries to borrow money from his father. Troy talks about the meaning of money when Raynell returns the ten dollars he had borrowed. Troy suggests that he put the money in the bank instead of borrowing from him, then he would have the money the next time he needed it.

Troy’s brother, Lyons, played by Russel Hornsby, is a disabled WWII veteran with a metal plate in his head, which creates delusions and strange behavior. He roams the streets carrying his horn. Troy was able to purchase the home he and his wife and son live in with his brother’s disability money. The relationship between Troy and Lyons is a very challenging part of the movie.

All of the cast members played their parts flawlessly, beautifully, harmoniously. Throughout the movie, all the characters are in the right places, particularly evidenced in the scenes between Bono and Troy which takes place in front of the house. Through Troy’s perfectly executed monologues, we learn of his troubled younger life.

During one of the close-ups on Bono, the background scene is taken in by rubble and junk. It is here in one of the many powerful scenes, that  Bono warns Troy to make things right. He is referring to Troy having an affair and his wife, Rose, may not stay married to him if she finds out. 

Troy’s relationship with his son Cory is rocky and similar to many fathers who try and live the life they missed through their children. Cory has a chance for a football scholarship, but Troy is against it because of his own misfortune. He was a great baseball player in the minor Negro Leagues, but was never able to realize his dreams of becoming major league player. Troy thinks that his son won’t have a chance at the scholarship because they go to white folks. Not realizing times have changed, Troy’s arrogance drives a wedge between him and Cory.

Washington tries to smother his dark side with charm, but it emerges with vengeance when he and Cory confront one another in a fight scene. Washington has a role tailored for all his Denzel’-ism. “Fences” is tailored for Denzel. The time frame of the dialogue is perfect where Troy levels with his son Cory, “N*ger, as long as you live in my house, you put a ‘Sir’ on the end of it when you talk to me.” He speaks like a white boss.

Troy’s wife Rose brings to her scenes very powerful acting as evidenced in her emotional crying scene, which is both painful and heartbreaking. She plays a wife who always smooths her husband’s rough edges and tells him when he is wrong.

As parents we either endure and try to improve our children’s lives, or we deny them the opportunities that they might have, but some parents are more givers than others. In the case of Troy, he denies his son the chance at a football scholarship, while Rose is more giving. We can relate well to our own parents. 

The most heartbreaking scene takes place when Troy’s family is getting ready to go to his funeral. Cory does not want to attend and Rose tells her son, “You are just like your father.” Finally, we see Cory accepting the truth, trying to hold back his emotions, but finally giving in to his tears.