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Washington Strikes Gold Once Again

Brendan Pappas, Staff Writer

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August Wilson is best known for the story Fences. Written in 1983 as a book and play, it has been performed many times by popular actors like James Earl Jones and Denzel Washington. In 2016, after a long-overdue 33-year period, the play was converted into a movie by Washington. And it is just as enjoyable as, if not better than, a hard copy or stage version.

Fences tells the story of the Maxsons, a black family living in the late 1950s. The main character is Troy, played by Denzel Washington who also directed the film in addition to reprising his well-known Broadway role. The family struggles to live, as racism is alive and well, outside relatives force the family to cope with them and their problems, and the Maxsons live off a garbage man’s income.

The movie is much more intense than the book, as the excellent portrayals of August Wilson’s characters come alive while acted to perfection. Fences is receiving the acclaim that Washington expected, as it has a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and won Best Supporting Actress at the 74th Golden Globe Awards. The film also garnered four Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The best role in Fences is Viola Davis as Rose. Her character is both a pitiful and loveable woman and impossible to hate. She can see the good in everybody and lets people know they are important to her. She will do whatever she can for others, even if it means harming herself in the long run. But most importantly, she is the glue that holds her husband and son together. Davis’s character is so realistic that it makes you wonder whether or not the other actors knew they were in a movie. She is emotional, strong, smart and brave.

The rest of the cast is not to be overlooked. Denzel Washington’s performance is as strong as any he has ever done. Everything that is supposed to be felt about Troy Maxson is on display in this film. He is blunt and straightforward, yet also gives viewers a reason to sympathize with him. By the end of the movie, all you can do is loathe Troy Maxson and wish that his fate is worse than what actually happens. And although Washington is only acting the role, resentment is felt towards Washington the man for the way he harasses actor Javon Adepo (Cory) throughout the film.

Segueing into the next point, the most impressive role in Fences has to be 28-year-old Jovan Adepo as Cory. Adepo is more than half Washington’s age, yet performs his role to an even better extent. A naïve teenager, Cory does not understand the realities of life, wanting to have everything given to him. This must not have been all that difficult for Adepo to portray, as he was a minor eight years ago. Parents and teens alike should relate to his character, as they have experienced the difficulties of growing up.

While some may argue that Fences was done better on stage, with James Earl Jones playing Troy, nothing should take away from how stupendous the movie is. All the actors give off perfect performances, the time period is exactly how it was in real life, and the audience in the theater erupted several times with arousing laughs and gasps. This movie teaches those who are fortunate how it feels to live from the perspective of people who are looked down upon.

There have been many great movies released in the past year, so Fences will likely not be named 2016’s greatest film on the night of February 26th. That prestigious award is expected to go to either Manchester by the Sea or La La Land. But Denzel Washington is a fantastic actor and director, and even if he doesn’t earn the praise that he deserves for the movie, he has proven that he has many talented years to come.

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Washington Strikes Gold Once Again