“Some people build fences to keep people out, and other people build fences to keep people in.”
There’s one thought that prevails throughout watching ‘Fences’ – “Damn, I really wish I could have seen this when it was on the stage.” Translating theatre into cinema sometimes works and sometimes it doesn’t. In this case it’s more of the latter. With a running time more in place with the theatre than a cinema and possessing truly impeccable performances from it’s cast it’s clear that this would have been one hell of treading of the boards. Although director and star Washington does a great job with his anti-hero lead it is Davis who admonishes and astonishes. Her Oscar nominated supporting actress role completes steal the show, she’s truly unmissable and captivating as she endures the aftermath of her on-screen husbands decision making.
Aside from a few brief intermissions in the outside world, when Washington’s character is at work, the cast and camera scarcely leave the family home. As a result the film’s original nature as a stage show detracts from it’s success as a film. Things seem too stagey, too long and too intricate. Although the film manages to capture a sense of claustrophobia by staying within the family home & garden it simultaneously creates a combined feeling in the viewer of dissatisfaction and, dare I say, even boredom. The screenplay is character driven, focusing on the intricacies of daily life and how easily it can implode, yet revelations are prolonged in a manner that imply doesn’t not shine in quite the same way at the movies. Although the calibre of the writing and acting is unquestionable, the decision to make it into a film is. Like its eponymous fence – solidly crafted yet keeping people out.
‘Fences’ opened in UK cinemas on 10th February.
Year: 2017 Runtime:139 minutes Dir: Denzel Washington