What a time. Coincidence? I think not. More like fate’s magical work at play. August Wilson’s classic 1983 stage play FENCES film adaptation is so timely it’s freaky. A film chock full of life, mental health, death, inter-family relationships and bouts of internal struggle, Troy Maxson’s one liner, “Life doesn’t owe you nothing, you owe yourself,” is tried and true and an oh so seasonable declaration.
Lead by Hollywood veteran Denzel Washington, who not only shines on camera (as always), but takes his talents behind the camera as director of the Paramount project. Starring the stunning Viola Davis, Stephen McKinnley Henderson, newcomer and promising Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson and Saniyya Sidney, the revolving seven cast film, simply put, bounces from one splendid performance to the next.
Washington plays Maxson, the bitter, overbearing dictator, the old head who “has more stories than the devil do sinners,” who persistently reminiscences of days of old, his baseball career and the league’s shoulda, coulda and wouldas after crushing his dreams of playing in a league that didn’t allow black athletes.
Alongside his common sensed, cucumber cool wife Rose (Davis) and Henderson (The American Side, Manchester by the Sea,) who plays Maxson’s BFF, Jim Bono, and fellow coworker at the Philadelphia Sanitation Department, FENCES leaves the viewer emotionally exhausted, but, in a good way.
Displaying full father and son relationships, including Maxon with his youngest son Cory (Adepo), who runs a tight rope between respect and rebellion, turf wars of football aspirations and realism, FENCES is incredibly potent and righteous. With staggering performances by Williamson, who plays Maxon’s brother and Hornsby as Maxson’s oldest, money begging, clean cut son, FENCES hit the spot.
With a jaw dropping ending, you’ll just have to witness the magic for yourself.
The Source correspondent Angela Wilson caught up with Stephen McKinnley Henderson and Jovan Adepo as they talked about the movie, what fences mean to them and more.
FENCES hits theaters nationwide on Christmas Day.
Special thanks to Jamale Yusan for editing.
Photo credit: Getty Images