Story by Haley Dixon
Fences is a film that can only be described as a personal movie. It takes a deep look inside the life of the Maxson family, with father Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington), mother Rose Maxson (Viola Davis), and son Cory Maxson (Jovan Adepo). The film adaptation released in theaters Christmas 2016 is based off of the award winning play written by August Wilson.
Despite what the namesake of the film and play suggest, this movie is not simply about fences. The material within the movie is heavy, as it handles growing up, dealing with the past, figuring out the future, death, drinking, cheating and racism.
Both versions of the story open up with Troy and his best friend Jim Bono (Steven Henderson) complaining about how their boss, the head of the sanitation department they work for, refuses to hire black people to drive the garbage trucks around. After work, the two go to Troy’s house for their weekly ritual of drinking and talking in Troy’s backyard. The recurring presence of the fence is first mentioned during this early scene with Troy and Bono, with Rose asking Troy to finish building the fence that she has been asking him to make for the last few months.
The idea of the fence and what it represents is present in both the play and film adaptation. With Rose’s persistent asking of Troy and Cory to finish the fence, Bono makes the observation that fences are sometimes built to keep those someone loves close to them, and that Rose didn’t want to lose either of them. Rose does her best to keep the family from breaking apart, and this motif is present throughout both the entire film and the play.
Compared to the written play by August Wilson, the film version of Fences does a solid job of portraying the emotions that were in the play. The movie is only better than the play because of the ability to see the emotions of the characters show on the big screen instead of having to imagine the voices and mentalities of the Maxson family. Both are equally enjoyable, but the movie provides a certain spark that is difficult to produce by only reading.
The movie was very successful in portraying the story from the play and succeeded in the box office, making $64.2 million compared to the $24 million budget. Movie rating websites such as IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie very high ratings, with 7.4/10 stars and 93%, respectively. With award winning performances from Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, this movie is a definite to-see and will open the eyes of many.