Fences

Denzel Washington has chosen a pared-back, stagey, theatrical feel for his adaptation of August Wilson’s play, as opposed to making a movie that expands on the original text by incorporating more sets, locations and characters…y’know, one that takes a play and uses the new medium to turn it into something… umbrella term ahoy… cinematic. While some people have wondered what the point is, other than making more people aware of Fences as an important literary work, I think it makes a lot of sense; it means that you can fully concentrate on the dialogue – of which there is a lot to digest – and the performances, which are uniformly very good (but particularly Washington, Viola Davis and a warm, likeable Stephen Henderson). This tale of an obstinate, perhaps understandably bitter Pittsburgh father and his relationships with his wife and children wears its obvious metaphors very heavily, but it’s a pleasure to watch acting this good. (***½)