Fences - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Fences Reviews

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April 5, 2018
Fences projects emotional magnitude like few others, spearheaded by the astonishing Viola Davis. But its source material's stage format has idiossyncrasies which, transposed into film, translate into limitations.
½ April 4, 2018
Watch Viola Davis' snot act its way into an Oscar!
I can't recall the last time I was so thoroughly disappointed by a movie... With a great trailer and premise, Oscar nods and a team to support it, Fences seemed to have everything to hit a home run. However, I was confronted with something I didn't desire. The source of the problem comes from a crude loss in translation, as Denzel forgets he can't just take what he did on stage and do it in an movie set with no alteration. The key word is adaptation and often that word entails evolution and most necessarily implies a deep shift. With a satisfactory soundtrack and cinematography, the film's demise is its script which is long, convoluted and has no sense of what real dialogue is all about. The most annoying thing was having to hear everybody often screaming on and on, throughout the movie's runtime. In a way, this kind of movie calls for a utilitarist script, i.e. you only present what's necessary. Now with a play, it's a whole different game as you can have a monologue driven play and there's some probability that the audience will enjoy it. If you don't remove what's unnecessary, all you have left with is yapping. And that's what i felt: I was sick of hearing Denzel yapping! The movie is so annoyingly filled with dialogue that there's no room for the scenes to breathe and there's no quietness to contradict the fuss. It's annoying to watch a movie that has an abominable disregard for one of cinema's golden rules: show, not tell. When we have the main characters spilling every single detail relating to at what point the narrative stands and exactly what's on their mind, you lose room for subtlety or innovation. It pains me that this has been nominated for best adapted screenplay, when it's obvious that a real effort of adapting the story is absent, instead being a copy paste of how the play should be structured. The film's best aspects are the two great performances, specially Viola's, who delivers a mind blowing one, rounded up with that crying scene that Academy voters are so keen on. Those are the two truly deserved nominations. For the rest, the movie isn't solid enough to be carried by the performances and the poor script and the fact that it's cut 40 minutes too long, makes it often unbearable to watch. I do not get all the love for this film and I don't think we should reward movies that are sequences of expected shots based on expositional, dialogue-heavy screenplays. If you do watch it, you'll watch it once in your life, more than that is cinematic abuse. Having watched all the main Oscar nominated movies, I can decisively say that this is one of the weaker offerings. I watched Arrival again yesterday, so... go with that!
Super Reviewer
March 16, 2018
In sparing not a word of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winner, Denzel Washington's brilliant unabridged treatment of his searing family drama packs an emotional wallop thanks to spot-on performances and a narrative that's allowed to breathe because it's not, well, fenced-in.

In this PG-13-rated drama, a working-class African-American father (Washington) tries to raise his family (Viola Davis, Jovan Adepo) in the 1950s, while coming to terms with the events of his life. In our hyperlink-filled culture, there are far too many jumping off points before you get the whole story. The long-form has become abridged to accommodate short attention spans. This is not new, however. The works of William Shakespeare have appeared in a digest form pretty much since first hitting the screen. When Kenneth Branagh spent $18 million adapting the entirety of Hamlet into a 4-hour H'Wood film in 1996, the move seemed rather bold. A limited release kept the film from making a profit in theaters, but glowing reviews and awards soon followed. For much the same reason, Washington's latest turn in the director's seat deserves much the same response-if not more because his setting doesn't allow for as much latitude as the certain tale of a Danish prince. And, before any classics muckety muck gets heated with this review for comparing the author of Fences to the Bard, let them be reminded: When it comes to "The Pittsburgh Cycle," you compare Shakespeare to Wilson.

It has been said that James Joyce never wasted a single word or piece of punctuation in his career-every last character was carefully chosen and meant something. So too stands the work of Wilson, an always pointed, poetic, and meticulously crafted treatise on American life. Though the writer speaks primarily from the African-American perspective and experience, his beautifully written (though not always beautiful) characters voice a multitude of universal truths. Here, he gets sole credit as screenwriter and every beat of his seminal work remains intact. His Troy, Fences's protagonist AND antagonist, is both a defeated man and often a defeater of other men. His pro-baseball prospects derailed by a stretch in prison, he has survived the ebbs and flows of life, albeit not gratefully. Undeniably charismatic, he flashes moments of warmth. Unfortunately for those in his orbit, these moments come between long stretches of him tearing down his wife and son as he takes out his bitterness with life on them. He is the architect of his own destruction, of course, which makes this flawed character so rich and undeniably human. In his performance of Troy, Washington mines every possible nuance from a man who puts up so many emotional, ahem, fences. It's an electric turn made all the more electric by Davis' amazing role as his long-suffering but dedicated wife, Rose. These two actors perfected their characters' chemistry during a 2010 limited Broadway run, which makes for a dynamic synergy on screen. You believe every peak. You believe every valley. Other characters, such as Troy's mentally challenged younger brother Gabriel (Mykelti Williamson), don't have quite the same impact on the screen as on the stage. Owing to the fact that the character does so much with so little, going big and loud (we're talking the theater space-not the actor, who does an excellent job) almost robs him of a powerful moment at the end. Also, some directors would have sprawled out the canvas to include more locations...to the detriment of the material, however. The definition of faithful adaptation, Washington's take smartly keeps the setting limited. In fact, save for a select number of scenes, the action rarely leaves Troy's property, which hammers home the point of a piece about barriers. Some filmgoers might call that stagey. This review calls it: the whole damn point.

To Sum it Up: Great Fences Make Great Viewing
March 11, 2018
I felt i was watching a great play and found out at the end that i had.
½ March 10, 2018
Denzel Washington enkindles this Pulitzer-winning play by August Wilson with a Shakespearean angst into a slowly devastating portrait of an African-Amercian family in Pittsburgh breaking apart under the weight of the ghost of racial oppression.
March 7, 2018
I'm fascinated at how spellbound I became watching Denzel rant in his backyard for two hours. FENCES premises may give the impression that it's the most boring movie on the entire planet, but 104 award nominations with 54 wins, still sounded very promising. It's the best that a movie about nothing can be. A showcase of acting-talent to the highest degree imaginable for "stand-in-one-spot" dramas.
March 4, 2018
One the best movies I have seen in a long time. The playwright is incredible.
March 2, 2018
Solid dialogue and the usual quality performance from Viola Davis and Denzel.
February 18, 2018
Enjoyed the stories and views protrayed in the movie.
February 11, 2018
Un film de bla-bla. Chronique de la vie ordinaire. Pas mauvais, mais pas phénoménal. Denzel est Denzel. Toujours très bon, mais il ne se surpasse pas. Il joue un peu ce qu'on sait qu'il peut faire facilement.
February 10, 2018
The scripts, the acting all-round and rawness these are just some of the aspects which are outstanding in this film. Denzel is a good acter , we know that, but in this film we really get a feel for his natural acting and directing ability. We can say this movie is uneventful and dull but really it isn't , i felt captured within the nature and quality artistic material of Fences. And hands down some off the best dialog's seen in a while.
February 7, 2018
Very strong and in depth story but the flavor of theatre remained strong as well. So much that I guessed it was a play at first. In a play, talk is king, and it is what we get. Good film anyway, but I admit I did snooze a few minutes and I did not care to rewind to see, or rather hear, what I missed.
½ February 1, 2018
Stellar performances from the entire cast, but felt a little drawn out at times.
January 30, 2018
This period drama is largely set in just one location and relies heavily on dialogue focusing around Washington. It features an outstanding performance from Davis. There are some fine moments in the film, but there are also some flat periods. Although the film takes us to some emotional places somehow it fails to pass that emotion onto the viewer. AAN AFI
January 23, 2018
This is probably the most complex and challenging role of Denzel Washington's career. Denzel and the supporting cast make this screenplay adaptation a thoroughly enjoyable movie to watch. I found myself emotionally invested in the story right up until the end of the show.
½ January 23, 2018
Denzel Washington subtly dazzles in his Fences' role. While the powerful film may not WOW you, Fences certainly has quite a bit to offer.
January 22, 2018
Took a while to get into it, but the end of the first act/entire second act were phenomenal.
½ January 16, 2018
For a drama film starring with a black people majority, Fences is a social drama about family. A father who struggles tries to protect his family whatever the way it's. Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are one of the couples who managed to portray this film. The story is very touched and very powerful for a film that tells about kinship.
January 15, 2018
A dialogue-driven film requires an amazing script and actors capable of engaging the audience. This movie has both. This is a wonderful adaptation of the stage play. Loved it.
½ January 15, 2018
Great acting, but very boring to watch if you don't go in expecting to see a theater play. Scenes are static and the dialogues go for way too long. Not a cinematic way to tell a story.
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