Sunday, December 25, 2016
Denzel Washington Revives a Timeless Classic to New Heights in His Latest Film, Fences
By Tunisia Jolyn
Remember when your parents messed up and you were mad at them for showing their humanity because you viewed them as superhuman? Through the eyes of young children, parents are seen as godly and that makes sense considering they are the physical manifestation of a miraculous creation - their kids. However, we usually grow up and recognize that our parents were indeed human, filled with flaws and sometimes, we are able to forgive them for their imperfect ways, realizing that we, too, are flawed humans with plenty of wounds and scars. In 1983, August Wilson was able to sense this human condition and capture this internal family dynamic in its many complexities with the Putilizer Prize winner, Fences.
There are many layers that intertwine with the story of the main character, Troy. Set in the 1950s, this 53-year-old man grapples with his struggles, his relationships, his faith, his career, his love and his family while also dealing with the overarching limitations of being Black in America. Troy’s story could be any father’s story. His son, Cory, who wanted to live out his dreams but felt stifled by his father’s stern approach, could be any son’s story. The mother, Rose, who quietly held the family together as best as she could, even when faced with many adversities, could be any woman’s story. What August Wilson was able to accomplish with Fences is a timeless story that is relatable to everyone by bringing in universal truths that makes us all feel something while viewing it. Producer Scott Rudin and Actor/Director Denzel Washington were able to take the vision of Fences one step further with its brilliant film adaptation, breathing new life into the classic play while maintaining its fundamental foundation that made the original work such a huge hit.
When the movie opens, you are instantly drawn in by the charismatic and hilarious Troy, played by the one and only Denzel Washington, showing off the main character's ability to tell story after story while his best friend, Bono, played by veteran actor, Stephen Henderson, listens and offers counter quips that are just as funny. Shortly into their man talk, Troy’s wife, Rose, played by the super talented Viola Davis, eases into the conversation throwing a little shade at her husband for his overdramatic storytelling while also cleverly neutralizing their banter with understated wit. In this very first scene, Denzel, through his impeccable direction and August with his impeccable pen, immediately make us, the audience, feel a connection with the characters thanks to the humor as well as the intimacy of the setting. It really feels like you, as an audience member, is right there, laughing at all of their jokes right along with them. That intimacy is held throughout the entire film, captivating us from the beginning to the end.
Later on, other characters come into the fold, emerging us even further to the lives of Troy, Rose and their family and friends. Thanks to the incredible performances of its leading cast members as well as supporting co-stars, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, and newcomers Jovan Adepo and Saniyya Sidney, the film was able to housed a chock-full of interesting tidbits that can spark conversation for days from the intergenerational struggle between the father and son to the unrelenting loyalty from the wife/mother to the role of faith and fear in humanity and how it plays out within families. This multi-layered story allows us, the audience, to tap into many areas at once while also aligning the characters’ faults and flaws with our own.
In recent interviews, Denzel has been asked, “What do you want people to get out of Fences?” and his response has been “It depends on what you bring to it.” August Wilson would probably agree 100% and appreciate that we, the viewers, are still exploring the fences around our own lives through the eyes of Troy and his family.
Tunisia Jolyn writes about power, faith, love, music, pop culture, human nature and much more on tunisiajolyn.com she sees her blog as a place to let go and let God by sharing music, art, writing, and multimedia projects meant to uplift, inspire, challenge, motivate and elevate all of us collectively and individually. Her ultimate goal is to create a little community of artistic, creative, beautiful folks, that wish to see a change in our personal lives and the world that surrounds us through positive energy, authentic connection, open conversation, enlightenment and fun.
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