Fences is adapted from August Wilson’s stage play by Denzel Washington he brings forth variations of issues that families face and the struggle to maintain a relationship. However, Washington’s direction falls flat right from the start. It is very difficult to adapt a play into a film given the fact that the stage directions are there within the notes for any director to utilize in their own adaptation. I felt as if Denzel copied the blocking from the play and that is why it felt so static, it felt as if everything was blocked and rigid instead of having a natural flow from scene to scene or from movement to movement. It was as if I was just watching a two hour play rather than a movie which isn’t what this medium is used for. When taking another piece of art the medium like film should heighten the experience and should incorporate what makes the film medium as wonderful as it is.
This film was hard to watch at times because of how off the pacing was. Each scene dragged on yet there was so much information being shared that it was hard to keep up. I felt like it was rushed and they didn’t play up the subtleties that the film medium can capture so well.
The performances are the only reason this film should be recognized because I was brought to tears by Viola Davis. Viola Davis is the greatest actress of this generation and she was incredible in this film. She exudes this power and she plays it off through her reservation as Denzel’s wife. Denzel Washington is a powerhouse and we have known this for years and having them both together sharing a screen was dynamite. They had excellent chemistry and they fed off of each other so well. Viola Davis was the glue that held this movie together, if it wasn’t for her I don’t know how or where this film would have ended up. I really wanted to like this but it was very long and tedious, I felt like it could have been cut down a bit more but bless Queen Viola and King Denzel for putting on a clinic for everyone to enjoy.