By Ronke Idowu Reeves
In her engaging and powerful speech during her Best Supporting Actress Academy Award win for Fences, Viola Davis praised the lifelong work of August Wilson for celebrating the triumphs and unfulfilled dreams of the everyman. As in its previous stage incarnation, the film version of Fences, directed by Denzel Washington, does this unflinchingly and unapologetically for a whole new audience to experience Wilson’s work. It’s the story of Troy Maxon (Washington), the baseball playing dream deferred man who hasn’t quite come to terms with what his life has become. And his wife Rose Maxon (Davis), a traditional spouse who after carefully placing her packaged hopes and heart in her husband’s hands discovers the life she thought she built for herself doesn’t exist.
Now on Blu-Ray, DVD and on Demand, Fences is the culmination of the existential and emotional magic that happens when fine acting and stellar writing, honed on the Broadway stage in the Tony award winning production, hits the big screen. The film also features fine performances by co-stars Stephen Henderson, Russell Hornsby and Mykelti Williamson plus newcomer Jovan Adepo who plays Cory, son of Troy and Rose.
And the Blu-ray Combo Pack edition doesn’t disappoint in the department of extras. Fans of Wilson, Washington and Davis will enjoy all the bonus content featured on the disc including interviews with the cast and crew, a featurette on how the Pulitzer Prize winning play was reincarnated for the screen. Plus, a revealing visit to the Pittsburgh set is also captured. There is even a short on how Davis prepared for her Academy Award winning role as Rose.
Washington left Wilson’s words untouched in the film incarnation of Fences. During its theatrical run the movie was lauded and praised by critics and was well received and well nominated during awards season. However, a small segment of audiences (many of whom were previously
unfamiliar with Wilson’s work) complained that the dialogue in the film felt long and went on and on. But, that’s who precisely a work like Fences was made for— those who don’t hear the music, melody and song in the mundane dialogue of our day-to-day lives. This movie showcases those voices masterfully in Wilson’s layered and complex writing. So if you missed the lyrical notes the first time around, pick up the Blu-ray edition, press play, watch again with your eyes wide open and your ears at full attention and take a listen— again. (Right: Denzel Washington and Viola Davis -- Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)