7:30 PM, 9th March, 2017
Set in 1950s Pittsburgh, this is Denzel Washington’s film adaptation of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway play. The movie reprises the stage roles of Washington as the main character, loquacious Troy Maxson, and Davis as his wife Rose: characters compared by some to those in “Death of a Salesman”, with Troy Maxson a ‘black Willy Loman’ – or perhaps a more nuanced version of Ralph Kramden.
Troy’s main attribute is his powerful speechifying. The movie opens with Maxson pontificating to his friend Jim Bono (Stephen Henderson) and the audience soon learns of his many trials growing up in the US south, his prison experience and his work ethic.
‘Wordy’ and definitely not for the ‘popcorn’/action movie audience, Fences is more of an intellectual tour de force, as Maxson, openly illiterate, demonstrates his strong command of language. Indeed, language is the very essence of Maxson – to a fault, to the long suffering Rose and Bono, and sons: rising football star Cory (Adepo) and musician Lyons (Hornsby). Silence is not his strong suit and his bitterness at his position as a sanitation worker, with his early dreams of a baseball career having been dashed, is palpable, affecting his relationship with Cory.
At 139 minutes, think of this movie as an intense experience you have had… perhaps a tough examination or interminable lecture, and gird yourselves for an experience every bit as forceful and exhausting, but ultimately rewarding, as the travails of Willy Loman.