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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fences (2016)

In 1957 Pittsburgh, a black man (Denzel Washington) who works in sanitation struggles in dealing with a changing world while supporting his loving second wife (Viola Davis) and their teenage son (Jovan Adepo). Based on the 1983 play by August Wilson and directed by Denzel Washington who played the role on Broadway in 2010. This is one of the great plays of contemporary American theater. The film uses Wilson's text and he gets credit for the screenplay although he passed away in 2005 (though Wilson had begun a screenplay). Even if you didn't know it was based on a play, the film's first part seems very stage bound as Washington and his cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen use the 2.35 Panavision lens like a proscenium. But it's not long before the film picks up its rhythm and it becomes unimportant although it is a dialog driven film. Washington is truly superb here, a reminder that he's not only one of the great contemporary movie stars but a remarkable actor. In her best film performance since DOUBT, Viola Davis gives a fierce performance. One can't help but think of DEATH OF A SALESMAN as the film unfolds, the similarities are there. An excellent ensemble cast includes Mykelti Williamson who give a beautiful performance as Washington's brain damaged brother, Russell Hornsby, Stephen Henderson and Saniyya Sidney.

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