Fences, which is directed by and stars Denzel Washington, is a drama film based on the Pulitzer-winning play of the same name by August Wilson. The movie also stars Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo and Russell Hornsby. It’s been acclaimed as one of the top ten films of 2016 by the American Film Institute, and received four Oscar nominations. Washington received a Golden Globe nomination for best actor, and Davis received a win for best supporting actress.

The film takes place in Pittsburgh in the 1950s, and chronicles the life of Troy (Washington), an African-American father dealing with race relations while trying to raise his family. Troy is prone to anger tantrums, often directed at his children and wife, Rose (Davis). From the start of the film, it’s evident that Troy’s voice is the law of the household, while everyone tiptoes around him, afraid of setting him off on another tirade.

At first, Troy is quite the dislikable character, seemingly always berating his loved ones. He condemns his 17-year-old son for pursuing his dreams of becoming a football star, telling his son that the racial barrier will prevent him from achieving any significant success. Troy is also an alcoholic, and in the depths of alcohol-fueled stories, is known to embellish the truth of his former achievements.

However, as the story unfolds, more depth and amicability is revealed in Troy’s character. Audiences see that he lives by the honorable belief that puts duty and honor to his family above all else, even above any temporary feelings of disdain towards them. Troy becomes one of the most complex and empathetic characters, ensuring that viewers are captivated by his development throughout the film.

The acting throughout this moving film is superb, with Washington and Davis’s onscreen chemistry bolstering the dialogue across the scenes. Davis’s performance as the conflicted wife is gripping, and landed her a much-deserved Golden Globe award.

Both Washington and Davis have also starred in the play on Broadway, and subsequently won Tony awards for doing so. So it should should come as no surprise that their performance on screen was equally exceptional.

The film also did a commendable job adapting the play to a different medium, while still staying true to its roots as a play. It showcases numerous sequences of rapid-fire dialogue between the characters. The characters transition in and out of locations while successfully keeping audiences’ attention with compelling conversations, which were often about race relations. The script is fantastic, and there is rarely a dull moment of conversation.

Fences is a film worth your money, and the award nominations and wins it received. It’s a portrayal of a very complicated man that reminds us all that everyone is human and flawed, and that our mistakes usually come at the expense of later personal failures.

Watch the stirring trailer below:

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