Stellar Acting Can’t Save ‘Fences’ From the Need for Adaptation

fences

Adaptation is necessary for bringing anything to the screen. It’s impossible to just transpose a novel, a comic book, or a play to the screen without some form adaptation to suit the change between mediums. It may seem that because a play is a hit and winner of Pulitzer Prize that its subject matter alone would be enough to suffice for a feature length movie, but that’s simply not the case as Denzel Washington’s adaptation of August Wilson’s play Fences proves. Throughout the film it’s apparent that Fences originated as a stage production and it is equally obvious that this is a project helmed by an actor. This is a movie featuring capital A acting with lengthy, wordy impassioned monologues and impressive performances but never once does Fences feel the least bit cinematic. It merely proves that works so well on the stage doesn’t necessarily work so well on the screen.

In 1950s Pittsburgh, Troy (Washington) works as a garbage collector. Every Friday, Troy shares a bottle of gin with his co-worker Bono (Stephen Henderson) in the backyard of the home he owns with his wife Rose (Viola Davis). Troy has a knack for embellishment and using baseball as a metaphor when discussing the thoughts that come to his mind, as Troy has hard time letting go of his past as a player in the Negro Leagues. On those Fridays, Troy’s eldest son Lyons (Russell Hornsby) stops by hoping to borrow money while his youngest son Cory (Jovan Adepo) is either working or practicing with the football team. The past grievances about not being able to play in the Major Leagues haunt Troy and he doesn’t want his son playing football or any sport, going as far as to refuse to allow his son to meet with a recruiter from a college. Sometimes Troy’s older brother Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson) stops by, his mental state damaged from a head injury he sustained in the war.

Fences doesn’t really have a plot as much as it’s a collection of scenes that mostly take place on the back porch of Troy and Rose’s home. These scenes consist of lengthy monologues about marriage, masculinity, race, and baseball as part of a larger portrait of this American family. Troy and Rose have a loving relationship, but that will soon be fractured by infidelity and thus start an unraveling of every relationship that Troy holds dear. It’s truly unfortunate from a cinematic perspective that Denzel Washington retains the constraints of the limited locations, making a movie that is just as sparse with settings as a play. Fences takes its time getting to the dramatic tension and its pacing really makes it kind of exhausting to sit through as much of the first half seems to blend together with one location and one rhythm to its lengthy conversations.

There’s simply no denying, though, that the acting in Fences is top notch all around, which is obviously a credit to having an actor-director in Denzel Washington. A powerful leading man, Washington is able to exude his wide-smile charms as well as tap into a darker, unsettling nature to his character and a facet of his acting ability that he hasn’t shown in some time. No matter how good Washington is, and he’s really good, he’s overshadowed by the immense talents of Viola Davis, who gives one of the finest performances in her career. All of the empathy that is in Fences is embodied by Davis, who also hits on the film’s tragedy and optimism in equal parts.

For all the excellent acting in Fences it is still a movie that doesn’t have a flow. Running at nearly two hours and 20 minutes, Fences lacks in pacing as it is solely comprised of lengthy scenes that are intended for the stage. Denzel Washington is an adequate director and a stellar actor, but his reverence for the source material underserves him here as the film is simply in need of adaptation. Even if you’re like me and are underwhelmed by Fences there’s no way you can overlook the fact that Viola Davis steals this movie and is movie’s true saving grace. If only the whole of the movie could retain just a fraction of the power that Davis brings to the screen.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Smash: Motorized Mayhem
‘Smash: Motorized Mayhem’ is For Auto Racing Fans, and That’s It

The wheels on the bus go round and round in Smash:...

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Trailer
Red Band Trailer for Martin McDonagh’s ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’

We’ve been long overdue for a new film from Martin McDonagh,...

Life
‘Life’ is a Lean, Mean ‘Alien’ Knockoff

Like so many great films, Alien spawned a whole slew of...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition Launch Trailer
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition Launch Trailer Launches a Storm of Bullets

Bullets fly and obscenities should be bleeped but aren’t in the...

New Frontier Episode 3 Release Date
Official The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Episode 3 Release Date

We finally have the official The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series –...

Injustice 2 Shattered Alliances Part 3
Supergirl Gives Us Hope in the New Injustice 2 Shattered Alliances Part 3 Trailer

The House of El has a new hero, Supergirl looks to...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Marvel’s ‘Generations’: Original Wolverine, Hulk, Iron Man and more to return

On February 16, 2017, Marvel and ABC announced the coming of...

Boruto
VIZ Media is Bringing Boruto to North America on Blu-Ray and Manga

VIZ Media announces North American Home Media Release of Boruto: Naruto the...

An Interview w/ Cyanide & Happiness Co-Creator Dave McElfatrick

Since the mid-2000’s, the insanely popular web comic Cyanide & Happiness...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
UAG
This Case is More Extreme Than You Are – UAG Urban Armor Gear

  If you live extremely, or just really want to protect...

Solo Backpacks
Protect Your Tech in Style With the New Solo Backpacks

Nerds, we are no longer limited to pocket protectors and neon...

Eyezen Glasses
EyeBuyDirect Eyezen Glasses Relieve Digital Eye Strain

EyeBuyDirect Eyezen Glasses help relieve eye strain and potential damage caused...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Vampiro Named the Head of Talent Relations for Lucha Libre FMV

From El Rey Network – Los Angeles – March 13 2017...

GLORY 39 Brussels and GLORY 39 SuperFight Series Fight Cards Finalized for Saturday, March 25

AMSTERDAM – GLORY, the world’s premier kickboxing league, today announced the...

KOTC Signs 14 WMMA Fights to Exclusive Contracts

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA. (March 7, 2017) – King of the Cage has announced...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
DC’s New Aqualad is ‘3-Pages of Gay’

3…2…1…Okay, now that the Social Justice Warriors who have only read...

12 Incredible Assyrian Women Around the World (Reposting)

March commemorates Women’s History Month in the United States of America,...

Comics on the Can – Amerikarate #1

Amerikarate! Writer – Corey Kalman, Brockton McKinney. Illustrated by Devin Roth...

Event News Event Reviews
WWE Slam Crate Event – Stone Cold Stuns Meltdown Comics

WWE Slam Stars is an upcoming series of figures that will...

Chris Hardwick Launches First-Ever ID10T Music Festival + Comic Conival

From Live Nation Entertainment – Los Angeles, CA (March 6, 2017)...

‘Jeff & Larry’s Backyard BBQ’ to Feature Musical Guests Eddie Money, The Marshall Tucker Band, Foghat & More

From Live Nation Entertainment – Two of the country’s most renowned...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming.

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Lebanese Englishwoman, Nadine Khouri Lulls you with ‘The Salted Air’

There is something fitting about a woman who’s last name translates...

Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con: Interview w/ Sonya Belousova

At last month’s Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con event, I had...

Mike Hill Bass Lives for ‘Love and War’

Love and War is a pop rock collaborative project that is...