This film's title refers to the character Rose (Viola), who wants her husband, Troy (Denzel) to build a fence around the house to keep her family together. But the film is about how the family falls apart due to Denzel's character being too much of a realist.
This film tries to portray realism. Troy Maxson is a man who's gone through a lot of shit and finally gets to settle down with his family. But because he was away from home for a long time, his sons are estranged from him. And he treats them with the no-nonsense attitude.
In my honest opinion, I felt like Denzel was really trying hard and overacting as Troy. He seems desperate to win his 3rd Oscar. It even shows when Casey Affleck was announced as winner last year, and the look of disappointment or whatever it is, was seen on Denzel's face.
Not that I can blame Denzel, but he seems to talk too much in this film. There are times where I felt like shouting "Dude just shut up!! Let someone else talk". I do understand it's a huge plot point to show just how annoying Troy can be and even his family members can be seen feeling frustrated with him.
Which brings me to this, I think Viola played her role very well and truly deserved her Oscar award. She plays a wife who's trying her very best to satisfy her husband, who doesn't seem to notice her efforts.
The screenplay flows very well. There are many lines that needed to be memorised to match the same dialogues from the Broadway play and Denzel did a good job at that, I'll give him that.
Overall, as a nominated film for Best Picture, I'd say this is one that is inferior compared to the rest. I did not enjoy this film as much as I thought I would. Maybe it's just me but the story just doesn't seem to fit in cinema, but in a book.
Favorite Quote: "What law is there say I gotta like you?"
Weaknesses: As usual, a film that is dialogue heavy can be a bit dull at points. A lot of it feels unnecessary. Film is a visual medium and there's not enough of a balance. With Troy doing so many negative things throughout, it's hard to root for him. That can make it tough to relate to the story. He doesn't get much of an arc. He does asshole things and doesn't change or pay for it. In fact, nobody really gets an arc, as the characters mostly stay who they were at the beginning of the story. Cory's the only one who goes from scared of his dad to standing up to him.
Overall: With lesser actors, this would be a forgettable film. The story doesn't lend itself to film that well, without many arcs and too much dialogue. However, the acting of Denzel and Viola is so great that it makes this the kind of movie you must see. Throw in Denzel's strong work behind the camera and you've got a film that is better than it probably should be.
Denzel Washington directs this beautiful film with some of the richest characters I've ever seen collectively in a film, all flawed in their own way and as real as I can imagine. Set over the course of the 1950s and 60s in urban Pittsburgh, "Fences" symbolically represents the constructs we build around ourselves, the choices we make, the consequences of our life decisions and the impact we have on others. There is such immense humanity in these brilliantly acted characters. They represent all of us more closely, even uncomfortably so, than many characters portrayed in film.
The extensive dialogue is indicative of its status as a play first, but fits very well for the film. Denzel mixes camera turns/circles with brutal stationary shots that perfect match the mood and subject matter occurring at the time. As a result, the translation from stage to film is near perfect. Viola Davis is phenomenal, as usual, but the major scene when Denzel's Troy gives her some particularly bad news, is Oscar-worthy in and of itself. I hope the Academy notices and showers this film with everything it can.