Denzel Washington and Viola Davis won Tony Awards for their performances in the 2010 revival of August Wilson’s Fences, and this big-screen adaptation gives them an opportunity to burn down the screen. Davis does: Her portrayal of Rose, long suffering wife to Troy (Washington), may be one of the greatest performances in screen history. If only Washington the director had made Washington the performer rise to Davis’s level. It’s not that Washington is bad—he’s quite good—it’s just that his interpretation of Troy feels like an amalgamation of other, better Washington performances. Still, that’s not really a quibble. With material this strong—Fences is one of the most admired plays in history—it’s impossible not to get swept up in the story of a former Negro League ballplayer looking back at his life. But Fences is bigger than that, a dense drama with so much subtext that it demands repeated viewings. The supporting cast is excellent, especially Stephen Henderson as Bono and Russell Hornsby as Lyons. Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s handsome cinematography almost makes Fences transcend its stage roots.
Director: Denzel Washington
Producer: Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington, Todd Black, Molly Allen, Eli Bush, Aaron Gilbert, Andy Pollack, Dale Wells, Charles King and Kim Roth
Cast: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, Saniyya Sidney, Christopher Mele, Leslie Boone and Jason Silvis