Friday, January 13, 2017
Fences (a movie review post)
I felt like Troy Maxson could have been my own father. [Which is why I'm saying it's not a "black" movie, because I think that gives the impression that you can only relate to the movie if you're African American, but I think Fences very facilely rises above that. Anyone not in the 1% should be able to relate to this movie.]
Although I don't think this is a Best Picture quality movie -- I had some issues with the ending -- though it will probably (and should) get nominated, the performances were amazing. Seriously amazing. This is possibly the best performance of Denzel Washington's career, which is saying a lot, I can't think of a better performance by any other actor in any movie I've seen this year. He was tremendous: likable and horrible. He was a guy you'd want to hang out with, stick with, as his friend Bono said, because he would take you places. And, also, give you an example of what things not to do, how not to be.
Viola Davis is great and certainly deserves best actress for this. She perfectly portrayed the wife trying to keep her wayward-leaning husband doing the right thing... even though he consistently managed to thwart her efforts without any seeming effort of his own. Her body language conveyed every frustration she felt while also communicating her failure to resist his charms whenever she would stand up to him. She was perfect.
Stephen Henderson, Jovan Adepo, and Russell Hornsby were all great. Hornsby has a lot of charisma so was really able to lean into the character of Lyons, the son trying to get by on his good looks and charm and the fact that he's a musician. But it's Adepo who really pulls off the dynamic of being the son of a father like Troy, the struggle of abandoning the search for approval from someone who never thinks of anyone other than himself.
Possibly the best performance of the movie, though -- and possibly the best performance of anyone this year -- was Mykelti Williamson as Gabriel, Troy's brain damaged brother. Williamson has been around for a long time, so you've probably seen him in stuff. I know him best from Justified. He was phenomenal. If he doesn't get best supporting actor for this role, it's definitive proof that there is something wrong with the world, not that we don't already have that, but, if he does get it, it might show that there's still hope. Seriously, he was great.
Fences is a good movie, a really good movie, but you shouldn't see it for the movie; you should see it for the acting.