Fences Movie Review
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The 2016 film ‘Fences’ directed by Denzel Washington, is an adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by August Wilson. Set in Pittsburgh during the 1950s, the story revolves around Troy Maxson (played by Washington), a former baseball player who now works as a garbage collector to support his family.

The movie explores themes of race, family, and masculinity through the lens of Troy’s relationships with his wife Rose (Viola Davis) and sons Cory (Jovan Adepo) and Lyons (Russell Hornsby). Washington’s direction brings to life the gritty realism of Wilson’s play, capturing the essence of working-class life in America during the mid-20th century.

The film received critical acclaim upon its release for its exceptional performances, with both Washington and Davis receiving Academy Award nominations for their roles. But beyond the acting, ‘Fences’ also garnered praise for its powerful storytelling that confronts issues of racism and discrimination that are still relevant today.

In this review, I will delve deeper into what makes ‘Fences’ a must-watch film that portrays complex human relationships with honesty and authenticity.

The Themes Of ‘Fences’

In ‘Fences,’ director Denzel Washington explores the complexities of family dynamics and generational conflict.

The film is an adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, set in 1950s Pittsburgh.

The story centers around Troy Maxson (played by Washington), a former baseball player who now works as a garbage collector to support his family.

Throughout the film, we see the strained relationship between Troy and his son, Cory (Jovan Adepo).

Troy’s own experiences as a black man in America have made him skeptical of any opportunities for his son, causing a clash between the two generations.

In addition to this, we also witness Troy’s rocky marriage with Rose (Viola Davis), who struggles to keep her family together amidst the growing tension.

‘Fences’ is a powerful portrayal of how past traumas can shape present relationships, and how difficult it can be to break free from generational cycles of pain and resentment.

The Realism Of Working-Class Life

The Realism of Working-Class Life in ‘Fences’ is a poignant reminder of the struggles and aspirations that working-class families face. Throughout the film, we witness the societal pressures and constraints that affect their daily lives, from financial difficulties to discrimination and racism. The portrayal of these challenges is presented with an unflinching honesty that makes it difficult not to empathize with the characters.

One of the ways in which ‘Fences’ achieves this realism is through its attention to detail in depicting the characters’ everyday lives. From Troy’s job as a garbage collector to Rose’s work as a homemaker, we see how they navigate their roles within society while also striving for their dreams. Additionally, the film explores the complex relationships between family members and friends, highlighting the impact of societal pressures on these connections. This creates a nuanced depiction of working-class life that feels authentic and relatable.

The film’s exploration of race relations within the context of working-class life adds an important layer to its realism. The nuanced portrayal of Troy’s experiences with discrimination highlights how societal pressures can impact one’s sense of self-worth and identity.

This aspect resonates particularly strongly given current events around police brutality against Black people and institutionalized racism.

Another significant element is how ‘Fences’ portrays gender roles within working-class families. Through Rose’s character, we see how women are often expected to put their own aspirations aside to support their families and partners.

This theme speaks to larger conversations about gender dynamics within society and how they impact individuals’ opportunities for success.

Overall, ‘Fences’ presents a compelling portrayal of working-class life that doesn’t shy away from examining its complexities. Through its realistic depiction of struggles and aspirations amidst societal pressures and constraints, it tells a powerful story about family, love, and resilience.

Exceptional Performances By Washington And Davis

The chemistry between leads Denzel Washington and Viola Davis is undeniable in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Fences. Their performances are nothing short of exceptional, and both actors deliver Oscar-worthy portrayals of their respective characters.

Washington’s portrayal of Troy Maxson, a former baseball player turned sanitation worker in 1950s Pittsburgh, is commanding and nuanced. He brings to life the complex emotions that drive Troy’s actions, from his bitterness towards his unfulfilled dreams to his desire to protect his family at all costs. Meanwhile, Davis shines as Troy’s wife Rose, bringing depth and vulnerability to a character who is often overshadowed by her husband’s larger-than-life personality. Together, they create a dynamic on-screen presence that captures both the heartache and humor in Wilson’s script.

Roger Ebert“Fences” is a powerful drama with fantastic performances from Washington and Davis.
Rolling StoneDenzel Washington and Viola Davis give two of the best performances you’ll see this year in “Fences.”
IndieWire“Fences” proves that some plays can be adapted to the screen without losing their theatricality thanks to Washington’s direction and acting.
VarietyThe lead performances are outstanding – with Washington drawing on all his charisma and power as an actor while giving full voice to Troy’s intellectual ambitions – but it’s equally exciting to watch Stephen Henderson…
The GuardianIt’s not just about words: it’s all about performance here…This is a film version that really works thanks to two stunning central performances.

The chemistry between Washington and Davis elevates Fences into something truly special; their interactions feel authentic and grounded in reality despite being set against the backdrop of an idealized 1950s America. As they navigate the complexities of their characters’ relationships with one another, they bring to life the themes of family, responsibility, and the American Dream that make Wilson’s play so enduring. The film is a must-see for anyone interested in powerful performances and expertly crafted storytelling.

Confronting Issues Of Racism And Discrimination

‘Fences,’ directed by Denzel Washington, is a film that confronts systemic racism head-on.

Set in the 1950s, the movie follows Troy Maxson, played by Washington himself, a former baseball player who works as a garbage collector in Pittsburgh. Throughout the story, Troy faces discrimination and mistreatment from his white colleagues and society at large.

His experiences shed light on the harsh reality of racial inequality during this time period.

Despite the challenges he faces, Troy manages to overcome generational trauma and provide for his family. His character portrays resilience in the face of adversity and serves as an inspiration to viewers.

The film effectively highlights how individuals can overcome even the most oppressive situations through determination and perseverance.

‘Fences’ is a poignant reminder of how far society has come in terms of race relations while also acknowledging that there is still much work to be done to eradicate systemic racism once and for all.

  • Nested bullet point list:
  • Themes Explored:
  • Racism
  • Discrimination
  • Takeaways:
  • Resilience in the face of adversity
  • Overcoming generational trauma
  • Next Steps:

Authentic Portrayals Of Complex Human Relationships

Confronting issues of racism and discrimination, “Fences” is a powerful film that delves into the complexities of African American life in the 1950s. However, the film also offers an exploration of masculinity and family dynamics, showcasing the ways in which individual relationships can be shaped by societal pressures and expectations.

At its core, “Fences” is a story about a flawed man named Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) who struggles to come to terms with his own limitations and desires. Throughout the film, Troy’s relationships with his wife Rose (Viola Davis), son Cory (Jovan Adepo), and best friend Bono (Stephen Henderson) are all examined in detail, highlighting the ways in which Troy’s own insecurities and fears impact those around him. In particular, his relationship with Cory is fraught with tension as he tries to prevent his son from pursuing a career in football due to his own failed dreams. These familial dynamics are further complicated by larger societal issues such as racism, poverty, and generational trauma.

MasculinityFamily Dynamics
The film explores traditional notions of masculinity through Troy’s characterThe Maxson family serves as a microcosm for larger societal issues impacting African American families during this time period
Troy’s inability to express vulnerability or accept help from others reflects common ideals of stoicism among men at this timeThe tension between fathers and sons regarding generational differences is explored in depth throughout the film
Bono represents an alternative vision of masculinity, one that values community over individual successThe role of women within families is also examined through Rose’s character arc

Overall, “Fences” offers a nuanced look at both individual relationships and broader societal issues impacting African American communities during this time period. Through its exploration of masculinity and family dynamics, the film raises important questions about the ways in which individuals navigate difficult circumstances and strive to find meaning in their lives. While the film can feel slow-paced at times, the powerful performances from its cast and insightful writing make “Fences” a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant experience.


‘Fences’ is a powerful drama that explores the complexities of working-class life, relationships, and racial discrimination. Through its strong themes and exceptional performances by Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, the film presents a realistic portrayal of the struggles faced by African Americans in 1950s America.

The film’s exploration of issues such as racism, fatherhood, and familial relationships is both authentic and thought-provoking. The characters are flawed and human, making them relatable to audiences from all walks of life.

The film’s focus on the experiences of African Americans during this period in history is essential in understanding the current societal climate. Overall, ‘Fences’ is an emotional journey that will leave viewers with a deeper appreciation for the complexities of human relationships and societal issues.

It offers an insightful look into the realities of working-class life and confronts issues that still affect us today. Washington’s direction combined with Davis’ unforgettable performance make ‘Fences’ a must-see for anyone looking for a thought-provoking cinematic experience.

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