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Movie Review: Fences

Updated on December 30, 2016

NEW RATING SYSTEM!

All movies start with 75 points. Then for every Pro/Con, points are either awarded or taken away. The number of points for each Pro/Con will range from will be a minimum of 1 point and maximum of 10 points (varying based on the significance of the Pro/Con). All the points are then added to 75 and the total determines the letter grade based on the following scale:

F (0-59), D- (60-64), D+ (65-69), C- (70-74), C+ (75-79), B- (80-84), B+ (85-89), A- (90-94), A+ (95-100)

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General Synopsis

Fences tells the story of an African-American man named Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington) living in the 1950s. Troy had hopes of being a pro-baseball player, but racial discrimination prevdnted him from playing professionally. Instead, Troy has worked all his life as a garbage man and barely being able that support his family. Fences tells the story of a middle-aged man struggling to deal with his difficult life, his lost dreams, his justifiably bitter view of sports and American success, his father issues and his struggling relationship with his wife (Viola Davis) and his children.

Pros
Cons
Acting (+10pts)
Long and Slow (-7pts)
Heavy Story (+10pts)
Denzel Rants (-4pts)
Last Few Scenes (+5pts)
Troy's Mistake (-3pts)

Official Trailer

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Pro - Acting (+10pts)

Before I mention the incredible acting by the two main cast members, I want to mention the side characters and their performances. Mykelti Williamson was absolutely phenomenal in this film. I don't want to spoil the character for anyone who wants to see this movie, but Mykelti played a very complex and entertaining character. Though whenever I see him in a role, a part of me wants him to mention shrimp. Another great performance was by Jovan Adepo who plays Troy's son. There were some heavy, dark, and intense scenes and Jovan captured it brilliantly.

Now I don't think I need to mention how incredible Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are, so know that they both bring their best for this film. They both subtly capture the weight of life and lost dreams. Then they each have incredibly impactful scenes that remind you (invade you've forgotten) how talented they both are. They portray vulnerability so passionately that it is hard to look away. This year has had some great performances, but both Denzel Washington and Viola Davis deserve Oscar recognition for this movie.

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Con - Long and Slow (-7pts)

Alright. This movie is showered great acting. Unfortubately this movie as a whole feels slow, it feels long and it feels uneventful. You'll walk away from the movie remembering it's better moments but the movie really could have been thirty minutes shorter. I can't think of anything specific that I would cut out (aside from Denzel's rants, but I'll get to that later) but everything could have been tightened up and condensed.

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Pro - Heavy Story (+10pts)

I kind of mentioned this in the "Acting" section but this movie is heavy. It is all about life and how difficult it can be when you have missed out on your own dreams. It is all about Troy feeling unfulfilled in life and how he cannot do anything about it. We see how this man copes with his uninteresting fate and he does not handle it well. The premise, coupled with Denzel Washibgton's performance, gives real weight and a compelling story.

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Con - Denzel Rants (-4pts)

So I think Denzel Washington is a great talent and I already said he deserves Oscar recognition for this role, but wow does he ramble a lot in this movie. There are a few scenes (specifically in the first half of the film) where Denzel Washington has these long rambling monologues. I will be honest, I like a movie that has scenes heavy with good dialogue but this was tough to get through. He rambles on and on and on and on about baseball and about stories from his youth. I'm not going to lie, I zoned out a few times despite my best efforts. The movie was able to bounce back after these scenes and recapture my interest, but man were they a struggle to watch. Luckily there were not too many scenes like this.

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Last Few Scenes (+5pts)

There were a few scenes at the end of this movie, let's call it an epilogue of sorts, that goes on for about ten or fifteen minutes and wrapped everything up in a cool way. I didn't expect the movie to end this way but, for a movie as emotionally heavy as Fences, I think an ending such as this was nevessary. We got emotional closure with this family and it worked for me. I was pleasantly surprised with the ending to this film.

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Troy's Mistake (-3pts)

I'm going to be as vague as possible here to avoid spoilers, but Troy does something in this movie that severely hurts his relationship with another character. The reason I had issue with this was that it was something he had done awhile ago that he is only revealing now but the thing really came out of nowhere. They had been hinting at something like this throughout the movie but the reveal was way more severe than assumed. It really came out of nowhere, I would have liked to have seen his screw up happen. That would have added more suspense leading up to the reveal and would have been a much more dramatic scene when he finally does reveal it.

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Rating: B+ (86pts)

Fences was a heavy and dramatic movie with fantastic acting across the board. The movie is essentially carried by the quality acting because the movie is also long and slow so without these great actors, this movie would have been a struggle to get through. This movie has its problems but, in my opinion, its Pros far outweigh its Cons. I definitely recommend checking out this movie as it will probably get Oscar recognition for the Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. However, it might be a movie better viewed at home where you can pause it and take bathroom or drink breaks because of its length and slow pace. Whichever way you watch it, I do seeing this movie at some point.

What did you think of this movie?

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