Fences tells the story of a working-class African-American father tries to raise his family in the 1950s, while coming to terms with the events of his life.
Fences is an adaption of the stage play of the same name by author of the stage play August Wilson and had been an almost fruitless endeavour on his part to bring his work to the screen, especially when he only wanted to use an African-American director, which is something that can be totally understood. This didn’t come into realisation until powerhouse Denzel Washington showed interest in starring as well as directing in the adaptation, reprising his role from the broadway revival of the play in 2010 with the help of Scott Rudin who produced both the play and the film. The amazing Viola Davis would also soon be recruited to reprise her role in the film adaptation.
At the forefront, Fences is an engagingly powerful film that I only wish I could’ve seen the 2010 revival of, and in it’s adaptation to the screen, it still holds that essence of being a stage play and seemingly not adapted well for an alternate medium that relies more heavily on the visuals then that of the actors performances. This is not to discredit, however, the performances both Davis and Washington gave and the importance of the performances given. In it’s new medium, there was a chance to expand the film past the central location of the house and making it feel more like we were watching a film instead of a play filmed for the screen.
Serious recognition needs to be given for both Davis and Washington as they give their hearts and souls into their performances of their roles. Yet, if anything, Fences is a well performed film though hardly brings anything new to the screen in terms of stage to screen adaptations that Amadeus, Chicago, Hairspray, The Normal Heart, Doubt, or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest brought. Since theatre isn’t exactly an experience so easily acquired, especially outside of New York’s Broadway or London’s West End, Fences is an enjoyable watch to satisfy the need for theatre. In film terms, it hardly feels like one.