Fences - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Fences Reviews

February 6, 2017
Washington is very good, but it's Davis - hurt, proud, determined - who's the star of this show.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
December 29, 2016
Washington has pledged to bring all of plays in the cycle to the screen. The good news is he started with a home run.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
December 25, 2016
Yes, Fences suffers somewhat from the bare-bones transferal of the "action" from stage to screen but the material is so compelling that viewers can easily lose sight of the movie's "play nature."
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
December 25, 2016
The two lead performances are stunningly complex and deeply human achievements from two of the finest actors working today.
| Original Score: 3/4
December 24, 2016
It's not cinematic enough to make you forget you're watching something conceived for another, more spatially constricted medium, but it's too cinematic to capture the intensity, the concentration, of a great theatrical event.
December 23, 2016
It's a privilege to watch Washington and Davis lay it all on the line.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
December 23, 2016
Based on the 1983 August Wilson play, Fences is little more than a filmed version of the 2010 Broadway revival. It all but throws up house lights during intermission.
Full Review | Original Score: B
December 23, 2016
Your best bet is to let those mellifluous, multitudinous words bewitch, bother, and beguile you; then maybe you won't notice the stagey presentation, slight story, and occasional emotional overreach.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
December 23, 2016
The masterful thing about Denzel Washington's direction here is that he doesn't exactly open up the play. Instead, he opens up the visual frame around the players.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
December 23, 2016
Ringing with both ancient wisdom and searing relevance, "Fences" feels as if it's been crafted for the ages, and for this very minute.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
December 23, 2016
Although Fences can be charitably viewed as a star vehicle for the actor-director - and he does reach for the rafters in certain parts, so loud and proud is his performance - it is Davis who walks away with the production.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
December 23, 2016
"Fences" is an effective drama, but it feels rigid, its stage origins handicapping its storytelling.
Full Review | Original Score: B
December 23, 2016
If Fences barely escapes the confines of its titular enclosure, the performances all sound to the skies like Gabriel's trumpet.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
December 22, 2016
Wilson's play is such an extraordinary social statement, its bitter patriarch rivaling Willy Loman in the greatness of his smallness.
December 22, 2016
Serious or not, many films are merely entertainments and are easily forgotten, even if they succeed. But a serious film such as Fences is a privilege to see, not just as a dramatic entertainment but because it reverberates long after it ends.
December 22, 2016
"Fences" wraps you and whirls you in a heady cyclone of words, ultimately dropping you gently on the ground, moved and changed and unexpectedly uplifted by the journey.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
December 22, 2016
Regardless of whether its controlled style and emotionally rich cast introduce this scalding drama of family discord to new audiences or revive it for longtime followers, it's tightrope-taut theater.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
December 22, 2016
Watching it is like getting a front-row seat to the beautifully mounted revival of a classic work of American drama, starring two stars who know and understand that text as well as any actors in the world.
December 22, 2016
"Fences" is perhaps best appreciated as a showcase for the brilliant acting of Washington and Davis. Their performances are virtually guaranteed to garner Oscar nominations.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
December 22, 2016
You don't get groundbreaking cinema from "Fences," but what you do get - two titanic performances and an immeasurable American drama - makes up for that.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
December 21, 2016
Fences may never lose the look and sound of a play, but Washington's close-up focus on the characters only heightens the dignity Wilson bestowed on them.
December 21, 2016
"Fences" is a feast of brilliant acting, in a story that's sometimes as difficult as it is powerful.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
December 21, 2016
Tragic, beautiful, thought-provoking.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
December 20, 2016
By themselves, [the actors] make the movie worth seeing, though in the end, it feels too much like a school assignment.
December 20, 2016
Washington's performance -- as big as it gets -- is all wrong for the movies, where even a self-aggrandizing character like Troy Maxson, a former Negro Leagues star ballplayer turned '50s Pittsburgh garbageman, needs to be scaled back to feel realistic.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
December 20, 2016
The intensity of the bonds between the actors here, forged when many of them starred together on Broadway, deepens the ache of this tragic tale and makes this Fences so formidable.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
December 20, 2016
Washington and Davis' performances... invite us in to an intimate place that's messy and painful and hard to shake. It's as good as screen acting gets.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
December 20, 2016
The people in charge, on screen and off, know what they have here, and they don't get material like this very often in their careers.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
December 20, 2016
Washington delivers not only one of the year's best performances, but one of the best self-directed performances in cinema history.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
December 20, 2016
Fences is a labor of love and attention must be paid. You don't get writing or acting of this caliber every day, and in this particularly dreary year of second-rate everything, this movie is something special.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
December 19, 2016
Washington gives a magnetic, layered performance, backed by a largely superb cast, most of whom reprise their roles from the Broadway revival of Wilson's classic.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
December 16, 2016
I respect [Washington] for not attempting to "open up" the play just to make it seem more "cinematic."
Full Review | Original Score: B-
December 16, 2016
With the level of acting talent involved, Fences could have been filmed in the parking lot of a pet store and still been just as effective.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
December 15, 2016
Fences is moviemaking as public service, like PBS's Masterpiece Theater: an accessible adaptation of a necessary literary work that few will ever have the opportunity to see onstage.
December 15, 2016
It will not come as a news flash that Mr. Washington is a movie star of the first rank... what he does here is both sizzling and subtle, a star performance that does equal justice to the play's poetry and kitchen-sink reality.
December 15, 2016
In bringing August Wilson to the screen for the first time, director-star Washington does the playwright proud by refusing to slice Fences into small pieces and serve it to short attention spans
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
December 15, 2016
Washington's role is obviously meaty, and he plunges into it with a mix of swagger and vulnerability. But it's Davis, not surprisingly, who really shakes the rafters, in a performance tailor-made for her.
December 15, 2016
The combination of top acting and the powerful rhythm of the language in the drama's celebrated high spots absolutely holds us.
December 15, 2016
Even as it properly foregrounds Wilson's dialogue - few playwrights have approached his genius for turning workaday vernacular into poetry - "Fences" is much more than a filmed reading.
December 14, 2016
It ... stands as an aching, lyrical, performance-driven masterpiece in its own right, a film so intense and engrossing that movie houses really should screen it with an intermission.
December 14, 2016
Honorable, worthy and windy, "Fences" is essentially a PBS episode of "Great Performances" that is inflated for the big screen without ever quite belonging there.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
December 13, 2016
It's not a movie, not really. It's a filmed play. But what a play. What a story. And what a pair of stars.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
December 12, 2016
Under Washington's earnest but plain direction, scenes of loose-limbed riffing ... soar above the drama's conspicuous mechanisms and symbolism.
November 22, 2016
Can you tell it's a play? Absolutely. Does that mean a damn thing? Not when the writing is this richly evocative, and the cast so often soars with it.
November 22, 2016
Offers enough dramatic meat, boisterous humor and lived-in performances to hook audiences of all stripes.
November 22, 2016
As you watch "Fences," there's never a doubt that these lives matter, and that's a good and noble thing, but you're also aware (maybe too aware) of how much the movie itself wants to matter.
November 22, 2016
Washington doesn't try to improve upon August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, but he brings it to the screen with integrity (and a handful of incredible performances).
Full Review | Original Score: B