February 17, 2017


Denzel Washington, 2016
Adapted from the August Wilson play, Fences is a limited storytelling piece set in Pittsburgh in the mid-1950's. Directed by and starring Denzel Washington, its main focus is lead character Troy Maxson - a struggling sanitation worker. Troy struggles with the cultural racial divides, regrets about his past baseball career, his role as a husband to his wife Rose (Viola Davis), and his role as father to his son Cory (Jovan Adepo).

Like many men in the 1950's, Troy is an authoritarian figure in his household. His is stubborn, arrogant, eager to discipline. Set in his ways. It's actually upsetting to think about how many people grew up with this dynamic in their households. These families were largely patriarchal with the wife staying home and doing the household duties during the day while the father worked to generate income. When the father would come home his precense would be felt throughout the house. Troy was this type of guy. Denzel is the perfect type of actor to play Troy. Because with all of the personality flaws that Troy possesses, there is still some charm that comes through and Denzel is so adept at channeling that type of energy. Troy is really an exhausting character, going off on long dialogue without ever taking a breather. We see the layers of the onion unpeel as the movie progresses. Troy's character continues to be draining - even as his character unravels. What was a pretty fortified routine is challenged by Troy's inability to resolve some of his conflicts. And as frustrating as Troy becomes, watching Denzel and Viola play off each other is absolutely compelling.

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