There are people who you automatically associate with Pittsburgh, such as Wiz Khalifa, Andy Warhol, Bill Nunn, George Benson, and Mark Cuban. If you were to make a full list of notable Pittsburghers, August Wilson would undeniably be at the top of the list.
The Pulitzer Prize winning playwright manifested 10 iconic plays and Denzel Washington brought one of them right to our backyard. Washington, 61, should be commended for bringing “Fences” back home. He should also be admired for directing August Wilson’s “Fences” for mainstream media.
“My job was to take care of August Wilson, first,“ said Washington to a group of local cast and crew members who gathered in the South Side for a special screening on Tuesday.
Set in 1950s Pittsburgh, “Fences” is about a middle-age sanitation worker, Troy Maxson (Washington), struggling with missed opportunities and a stagnant career. Dysfunction surfaces in his family when he kills his son’s dream of playing college football and gives his wife, Rose (Viola Davis), some devastating news.
Washington and Davis were magical. They clearly work well together. But, after much practice from playing the same roles on Broadway in 2010, the chemistry made perfect sense. Davis won Best Lead Actress in a Play at the 64th Annual Tony Awards that same year and Washington snagged Best Actor.
The duo deserves any accolades coming their way in relation to this film. “Fences” is powerful, uplifting, and despite the time difference, hits home with every family.
To much surprise, Mykelti Williamson steals the show—his strongest performance to date. His smaller roles here and there have started to accumulate, but it is “Fences” that places him to the forefront of male actors. Williamson plays Troy Maxon’s younger brother, Gabriel, who suffered from mental delay as a result of a war injury.
“Fences”, which hit theaters nationwide on Christmas, is a splendid homage to August Wilson, Pittsburgh, and the Historic Hill District. Sugar Top, a section of the Upper Hill District, is simply beautiful on the big screen. Anaheim Street, which played a significant role in my own childhood, is transformed, confirming Pittsburgh’s picturesque landscape.
Typically, I throw a little bit of shade every film review, but in this case, there’s nothing to critique. “Fences” is a well thought-out arrangement of excellent storytelling and conviction. Thank you, Denzel Washington!