Fences ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Denzel Washington's adaptation of August Wilson's play Fences starts out feeling way too much like a stage production, with its breakneck dialogue and set-like locations, but about 30 minutes into the picture, it transforms into its own entity: an engrossing familial drama.

Denzel Washington gives one of the most layered performances of his career as the overbearing patriarch Troy, a prideful man filled with resentment, seething that his dreams of playing professional baseball never worked out and that he's trapped in a working class life financed mainly by his brother's wartime injury. What's incredible about his effort is how Washington makes Troy utterly charming, intensely sympathetic, and immensely infuriating throughout the picture. Viola Davis gives an equally impressive, yet heartbreaking turn as Troy's long suffering wife Rose, a woman who gave up everything to be with him, stuck between a rock and a hard place after he asks her to help raise his dead mistress's baby. As Rose, Davis shows an amazing strength and courage in dealing with Troy’s cheating and in raising his child with the same care as one of her own children. Davis and Washington's work along with Stephen Henderson's supporting effort as Troy's loyal best friend Mr. Bono, carries what should be an average movie due to its bloated 139-minute length and the repetitive nature of Troy's skirmishes with his family. They give this film the well-rounded personality that makes it worth watching.