More or less set within one single location, Fences is the third directorial effort from Denzel Washington and is quite tellingly an adaptation of August Wilson's stage play. It always intrigues me when an actor of Washington's calibre steps behind the camera, having not done so many times before, and with a cast that also includes Viola Davis, Fences was definitely going to grab my attention even more.

Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) is a man who very much lives by the old school values of working hard and never letting anybody give you a head start in life. Living in 1950s Pittsburgh with his wife Rose (Viola Davis) and their son Cory (Jovan Adepo), Troy tries to raise his family while coming to terms with the past mishaps in his life.
Fences is very much a film driven by some astonishing performances and powerful dialogue written by August Wilson. The basic setting of the film lures you in while the far from basic narrative, full of emotion and consequence, packs the punch that makes Fences such essential viewing.

There's no glitz or glam to any of the direction or cinematography however, there doesn't really need to be when a film can hold your attention through just the dialogue and performances. Fences has left me wanting to see how the adaption stands up against the stage play, and if it's anything like the film, it must be a pleasure to sit through.

Coming to the performances, which really are the film's major strength, Fences will knock you well and truly out of your seat. I could watch Denzel Washington act all day and while it may seem like he's on autopilot sometimes, I can assure you he's not. Washington just makes it look so easy because he is so damn good and in Fences, he gives the best performance I've seen from him in a while. Up against him is Viola Davis, herself a force of nature in the acting department, and she delivers a wonderful performance, one stunning moment in particular making it adamantly clear that there is no one stopping Davis from winning all of the Best Supporting Actress awards going.

Fences is a little lengthy however, when the film possesses such great performances and meaningful dialogue, it demands your attention from the first moment right through to the very last.

Verdict: ★★★★


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