Troy Maxson’s carriage stands heavy with disappointment. When he’s not expressing his pent-up anger, his posture slumps forward with the extra belly fat of late middle-age. As Troy, Denzel Washington creates such a convincing portrait of this disillusioned man — his eyes have narrowed from bouts of rage and sorrow — that he comes to embody the soul of a generation, a generation of disenfranchised African-Americans who were born before Martin Luther King Jr. articulated his dream. Troy was once a talented baseball player whose career peaked before Jackie Robinson broke the color line in the Major League. During a moment of deep regret for his frustrated ambition, he exclaims, “There ought not never have been no time called too early!” Now, he wrestles with accepting his dead-end job as a garbageman, against the constraints of being a responsible husband and father. Fences, an adaptation of August Wilson’s play of the same name, takes place in and around the Maxson family home. Washington also directed the movie and captures the sense of stability, and claustrophobia, that a house often affords. And critics will need to invent new superlatives for Viola Davis’ performance as his self-sacrificing wife, Rose. As her joy steadily drains away, we watch her loving expression change into disenchantment and, remarkably, back to love. Both Davis and Washington honor these characters by thoroughly inhabiting their emotional flesh.
Now playing at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.