Though Clearly a Product of the Stage, “Fences” Excels on the Strength of Davis and Washington

In Fences, the titanic talents of Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are once again on full display.  The two reprise their roles from the 2010 revival of August Wilson’s play of the same name, for which each earned a Tony Award.  The film certainly feels like a play, as the performances are very stylized towards the stage.  Washington directs the film as well, making it his third feature, and first in nearly ten years.  Though peppered with discussions of race relations in the 1950s, the core of the story focuses on the relationships between members of the Maxson family.  Within this context, Fences explores the importance of responsibility, the strength and danger of a domineering personality, and the conflict between settling for something and seeking out your own desires in life.  It is a small film, but packs quite a punch throughout.

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