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

GameStop, Inc.


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.

  • Overall Score


A movie for and by actors, Fences features some stellar performances, especially by Viola Davis, but Denzel Washington’s movie version of August Wilson’s play is in dire need of cinematic adaptation instead of transposing the Pulitzer Prize winning play to the screen.

Anytime Costumes

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Paul Crowder and ‘Boss’ Wooldridge Talk ‘The Blue Angels’ Doc – Interview

Director, Paul Crowder and Flying Ace, Greg “Boss” Woolridge talk about...

Eric Bana Talks ‘Force of Nature: The Dry 2’ – Interview

Eric Bana Returns for the sequel to ‘The Dry‘ in ‘Force...

Letitia Wright’s Talks about her Latest Film ‘Aisha’ – Interview

Letitia Wright’s latest film, ‘Aisha‘, a story about immigration, resilience, friendship...

Event News Event Reviews
Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ Takes You to A Whole New World at Segerstrom – Review

Disney’s Aladdin takes the audience on a thrilling chase and a wonderous place...

Dark Harbor Returns to Long Beach on The Queen Mary this Halloween

The Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor Returns to Long Beach for the...

It’s Showtime! ‘Beetlejuice’ is a Hit at Segerstrom Center of the Arts – Review

It’s Showtime! ‘Beetlejuice‘ is a Hit at Segerstrom Center of the...

Automotives Football MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Oscar De La Hoya Partners with El Rey for ‘Friday Night Fights’ – Interview

The Golden Boy himself chatted with us about Golden Boy Promotions...

Olympic Runner Colleen Quigley ‘On The Road to Paris’

Team USA Olympic Runner, Colleen Quigley is On The Road to...

Paralympian Swimmer Ahalya Lettenberger On The Road to Paris

Team USA Paralympian Swimmer, Ahalya Lettenberger is On The Road to...

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...?
Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse – We’re DEMONS!

I'm sure it's just allergies. Cacti is notorious for pollen...

Fantoy Comics Presents: Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse part something: Hermione and the Mini-gun pt 2

Have a lead salad instead!

Fantoy Comics Presents – Harry Potter and the Pahrump Apocalypse part ?: Hermione and the mini-gun pt 1

It can't fire more than 6,000 per minute!

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’ – Interview

Joe Kwaczala Talks About His new Comedy Album ‘Funny Songs &...

Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her Career in the Arts

First Generation Assyrian-Chaldean, Songwriter and Poet, Tamara Mechael Talks About Her...

Louden Swain Headlining Los Angeles Show at The Echo

Press Release – Louden Swain are headlining Los Angeles show at...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Gameplay Trailer

The first Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League gameplay trailer was revealed during...

Wonder Woman Game
Wonder Woman Game Announced By DC and WB Games

Wonder Woman game will feature the iconic hero in a 3rd...

MultiVersus brings Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny, and More

MultiVersus is bringing Shaggy, Harley Quinn, Jake, Batman, Arya Stark, Bugs Bunny,...

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
Gary Morgenstein Talks ‘A Dugout to Peace’ the Final Installment of his Trilogy

Gary Morgenstein Talks About ‘A Dugout to Peace‘ the final installment...

Chris Clews Is ‘Raised on the 80s’ and Shares Those Life Lessons

Chris Clews was ‘Raised on the 80s‘ and Shares Those Life...

Roye Okupe Brings Authentic African Representation to HBO Max and Cartoon Network

Nigerian-American, Roye Okupe brings authentic African representation to HBO Max and...

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
Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand Demo

The new ‘Harry Potter: Magic Caster Wand‘ is ready to ship...

Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the ‘Good Flour’

Canadian Super Chef Jen Peters and Matthew Clayton Bring us the...

Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide
Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

The Pop Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is now available to help...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Episode 38: Hamid Rahmanian

Join Whitney Grace as she speaks with artist Hamid Rahmanian, who...

No Preview
Toon-In Talk Episode 37: Niki Smith

Whitney Grace interviews graphic novel writer and artist Niki Smith about...

Toon-In Talk Episode 36: Rob Paulsen

Rob Paulsen takes some time from his busy voice acting schedule...