Fences ★★★★

There's often a backlash when it comes to adapting a play for the screen especially when it stays so loyal to the work and becomes a filmed version of the original piece. Denzel Washington's directing of August Wilson's Fences opens up the film to an extent, allowing you to explore the Maxson house wherein the play is constricted to the front porch and here gives you glimpses the Pittsburgh community and Troy's sanitation job. Even so, the scale of the film is so compact because of its intimate cast of the Maxson family plus Troy's friend Bono. Of course what gives the source material away is that the plot is comprised of large stretches of fast paced dialogue. Why I don't find this so criminal is because I've always wanted to see Fences and what prevails here is Wilson's powerful writing. He creates such complex characters with Troy, the "damn the man" type whose belief in providing for his family is what also destroys it and Rose, the wife who accepts the burden and pain of her selfish husband. The rich characters are made doubly impactful by the sensational performances by Washington and Viola Davis who have lived as these characters so many times on stage make reactions and emotions feel so natural. The twists and turns of plot in such a sedentary location elicited guttural responses from myself and turned my theater into a congregation, 100% on team Rose. I believe there are some missed opportunities by not expanding the story to allow us to meet characters that are only spoken of like Troy's mistress or Bono's wife but it's meant to be an insulating narrative about a man unable stronghold those around him. The epilogue doesn't work for me as the film concludes with an exalting of Troy where I would have preferred a more bitter conclusion of him losing everything he loved but movies tend to shy away from such darkness. I still appreciate the opportunity to experience this monumental piece of theater and at least they don't fuck it up (looking at you Les Mis).