Directed By: Denzel Washington

Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Jovan Adepo, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, and Saniyya Sidney

"You got to take the crookeds with the straights."
-Troy Maxson (Denzel Washington)

The statement above is especially true when it comes to Denzel Washington's acting career as of late.  For every Flight with which we're enamored, we have to deal with a slate of films such as Safe House, 2 Guns, and The Equalizer.  There are plenty of crookeds in this late period of his career.  That being said, his few films from the director's chair have all been straights so far.  Films like Antwone Fisher and The Great Debaters speak for themselves.  With the arrival of his cinematic adaptation of August Wilson's Fences, the trend of greatness from the director's chair continues for Washington.  Defined by the fantastic play written by Wilson, respectfully envisioned by Washington, and beautifully acted by its two leads, Fences is an emotional journey back in time to the 1950s (when America wasn't so great, particularly for people of color).  Swinging for the fences, Washington knocks this one straight out of the park.

It's the late 1950s, and husband and wife Troy and Rose Maxson (Washington and Viola Davis) have been on this journey called life together for some eighteen years now.  Per the usual routine, Troy walks home from work with his friend Bono (Stephen McKinley Henderson).  Shooting the breeze over some drinks and recounting old stories with Bono and Rose in the backyard, Troy is seemingly the life of the party at the Maxson household.  There's a flip side to this coin, however.  Troy is also feared by those who reside at this little house in Pittsburgh.  As Troy begins to realize that he's been standing in the same place for eighteen years, he begins lashing out at those closest to him.  Despite all the jokes and advances he makes, Rose invests as much energy in lightening Troy's mood as much as she does in maintaining their house.  Despite his success on the football field and the prospect of an athletic scholarship, Troy's son Cory (Jovan Adepo) isn't exactly making his father proud by delaying chores like building a fence out back.  As tensions escalate, the ties that bind the Maxson family together are put to the ultimate test.

At the dawn of the Trump era, a film like Fences teaches moviegoers of all backgrounds some important lessons that continue to resonate years after August Wilson's passing.  In society today, we chase after likes on Facebook and Instagram, and we care about emotions.  When a film like Fences comes along and gives us a reminder that it's about people doing right by us and not necessarily liking us, it’s something truly powerful.  Delivering an intimate affair that feels like a stage production on the big screen that captures the challenges husbands and wives face and the struggles fathers and sons create, Fences is an engrossing motion picture that winds the clock back and showcases what America really was for people of color when it was supposedly great.

The acting is incredible here in Fences.  The performance from Denzel Washington as our male lead Troy Maxson is nothing short of mesmerizing.  Built on spontaneity and combustibility, Washington's Troy reacts to every single catalyst thrown in his direction, large and small.  Interacting with his character is a constant and never-ending walk on eggshells.  It's an extremely spontaneous performance built on a self-hatred that’s been cultivated by a lifetime of oppression and mediocrity.  Viola Davis knocks it out of the park as his on-screen better half Rose Maxson.  Composed and resilient, she epitomizes the strength of black women of that age in the way she dignifies herself as her long marriage is treated with anything but dignity and respect.  At the same time, this quiet and wistful woman can deliver the most bite of all with just a few sharp words.  She can turn on a dime but in a slightly more potent way than Washington's character because she holds the sacred title of matriarch in the Maxson household.

is one you must see this holiday season, and it will most certainly be a contender as awards season rolls on.  Do not miss this one.  Denzel Washington's latest foray behind the camera gets a sober rating.