Denzel Washington’s age greatest barrier in film version of ‘Fences’

Jack Petro

Jack Petro

Denzel Washington commits the cardinal sin in theater. Never, ever direct a production where you are the leading actor. It is impossible to see yourself critically as a performer.

“Fences” by August Wiilson won the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for best Broadway Drama starring Washington and co-star Viola Davis.  The same duo appears in the movie, but the transition from play to movie is no easy matter.

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in "Fences."

Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in “Fences.”

Troy (Washington) and wife Rose (Viola Davis) live in Pittsburgh. It is 1955.  Troy has a steady job as a garbage collector and the pair have a neat, modestly furnished home. They have two grown sons. The older is a moderately successful musician while the younger is being recruited by the NFL.

A tethered baseball and bat in his yard testifies to Troy’s athletic abilities.  He says he could have made it big but the color line was not broken by Jackie Robinson until he was past his prime.  He makes his family suffer for his disappointments and becomes a tyrant.

The bed rock performance belongs to Viola Davis who ties her relationship with Troy to some sense of stability.  While Troy slaps his pay on the table every two weeks, he cheats on his wife without justification.

An Oscar nomination and award is in store for Davis.  She will nose out Emma Stone (La La Land).  Washington’s performance is inhibited by his own intentions. There is no more telling evidence when he declares “I’m 36” (Washington is 61).

The movie is a solid B in all aspects.

“Fences” is currently showing at the Old Mill Playhouse at Lake Sumter Landing in The Villages.

Jack Petro reviews movies for Villages-News.com.

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Comments

  1. Steve Roberts says

    The Villages-News.com does it again–a headline that has nothing to do with the article. I didn’t see any where in his review where Mr. Petro critized Washington’s age, just his performance.

  2. Lewis Forrest says

    I think your B rating is kind at best. Yes, the acting was excellent and will probably receive awards. However, as entertainment, this movie falls far short. To watch a deceitful, embittered (old ?) man rant on for two hours until he dies is far from good entertainment. Go see Hidden Figures, a much better movie supplying justification and a happy ending.

  3. Paula Russo says

    You nitpick one of the greatest actors in one of the greatest performances in a very long time. Did you even see the movie? Better hope you can continue writing your nonsense here in The Villages because your reviews certainly won’t be in high demand anywhere else.

  4. Tony Garcia says

    Jack also stated on previous posts that Casey Affleck’s acting on Manchester by the Sea was not very good, yet he won best actor in a drama.

    I saw Fences and the movie kept us involved during and after. There was a lot of discussion from the people in our group. The acting in this movie was very, very good.

    I respect the writer’s opinion, but I do not share it.

  5. Rob Michaels says

    Jack-
    You need to pay more attention to the background story of a movie if you are going to review it.

    Your bad mistake concerning Denzel Washington’s performance based on your inaccurate reporting of his “supposed” age in the film may make many filmgoers skip the film/Please be more careful.

  6. Tamara Dunn says

    Denzel’s character is 53 years old. Denzel and Viola started in the 2010 revival of the August Wilson play. Viola is not competing against Emma for the Oscar. Emma is in the best actress category while Viola is in the best supporting actress category.

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