Fences: Even When The Emotional Snot Flew Hard & Fast, Viola Davis Deserved That Oscar [Blu-ray Review]

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From Paramount Pictures and director/star Denzel Washington, based on the stage play of the same name by August Wilson comes the Academy Award winning Fences. Also starring Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, Mykelti Williamson, Russell Hornsby and Jovan Adepo, the film is available to own March 17, 2017 on Blu-ray and DVD.

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Fences is the story of Troy Maxson, a mid-century Pittsburgh sanitation worker who once dreamed of a baseball career, but was too old when the major leagues began admitting black players. He tries to be a good husband and father, but his lost dream of glory eats at him, and causes him to make a decision that threatens to tear his family apart.


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Review

Denzel Washington directs and stars in Fences as a sanitation worker who lives by a very specific and humble set of rules and expects his wife and children to do the same. He’s an oldschool man, he does his job, walks home with his best friend and the two take turns sipping whiskey while talking about life and shit. You know – what people used to do before there was TV or hell – the internet. Washington’s dialog flows so well that you forget he’s one of the most recognisable actors on the planet – because he transforms into Troy Maxson.

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I wasn’t familiar with the original play, but James Earle Jones was originally the lead when it came out in the 80’s and for this film adaptation – they actually managed to get most of the original stage cast to reprise their roles from 2010’s production. Viola Davis is incredible as Troy’s wife, who is forced to keep her family together and adjust to some gut-wrenching revelations that her husband shares with her during the course of the film. I’m usually not a fan of Davis’ work because she always seems to be ‘trying too hard’ or something…However, even when there’s snot flying from her face in Fences, it all seemed very genuine for once. She truly deserved that Oscar for her performance here.

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Fences is all about conversations. There are no action sequences, there are no car chases, there are people talking to one another and propelling the plot forward simply by engaging in interesting and moving conversations. There are alotta emotions swirling around this film… You will be impacted one way or another watching Fences, whether you relate to the social aspects of the film or not, this is a movie about family and how even when family fails you, it’s how you deal with the curveballs that determine how you live life. It’s some deep stuff and Washington is ferocious. I don’t think you’ll hear him speak that much in any other project he’s been a part of. August Wilson’s play is a masterwork in dialog and seeing that film translation was wonderful.

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If I had any issues, it would just be the design of the film — it’s a stage play adapted into a 2.5 hour film that is faithful as possible to the original. That means — a shitload of talking. So the film might drag at certain times if you can’t relate to the conversation, but I did find the movie bounce back halfway through and I was hooked more-so from the second half onward. Mykelti Williamson does a tremendous job too playing the mentally disabled brother of Washington’s character. Easily his best supporting role since Forrest Gump.

Rating:

Special Features

  • Expanding the Audience: From Stage to Screen
  • The Company of Fences
  • Building Fences: Denzel Washington
  • Playing the Part: Rose Maxson
  • August Wilson’s Hill District

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I had no idea that pretty much the entire cast of the Tony-Award Winning Fences production from 2010 had returned for this film adaptation six years later. It was really, really cool seeing how Washington directed the film and how it translated from the stage to the big screen. There’s some great background on August Wilson as well who wrote this slice of genius, so I’m very satisfied with the features included on this Blu-ray.

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