Signed up the 08/06/2017
Drama Film – 2016 – 2hrs 19mins
“It’s not easy for me to admit that I’ve been standing in the same place for eighteen years…”
“Well I’ve been standing with you
I’ve been right here with you, Troy!
I’ve got a life too
I gave eighteen years of my life to stand in the same spot as you!
Don’t you think I ever wanted other things?
Don’t you think I had dreams and hopes?
What about MY life?
What about ME?”
And therein lies the reason people build Fences.
If you haven’t seen it, rent the DVD, buy a lot of junk and a box of Kleenex tissues. Watch it with your family because this film is about the state of our families and how broken some of us are. An emotional roller coaster with a sincere and powerful story.
Exceptionally written, the film is led by outstanding Hollywood giants Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, who I fondly refer to as ‘Mom and Dad’. Fences is a story written by black people for black people. Now, I am not in any way excluding people of other races from watching the film and showing it love, or even feeling some connection with the story, but one cannot deny the power of representation for black people in film. It is not common, so when we see it being done, exceptionally- it feels like a win for us.
Herein, a story that portrays all of our stories. Our grandmothers, our mothers, aunts, sisters, friends and unfortunately, some of us too.
In the beginning, Troy Maxson is painted as a good guy. A man who works hard for his family every day and loves his wife madly. We see this when he gets home from work, accompanied by his best friend Bono (played by actor Stephen Henderson). He calls out for his wife and showers her with affection, teasingly expressing his love for her to his friend. An audience can easily be swept under his charm.
However, the cracks in his character show early on when his obsession with death comes to surface. This obsession is recurrent throughout the film. Another crack that we see right from the start, is his bitterness. Life has not been fair to Troy. He has been in his fair share of trouble, estranged from his family from a young age with the exception of his younger mentally ill brother Gabe (played by actor Mykelti Williamson), did time in prison and has been robbed by the system from following his one true passion- baseball, because of the color of his skin. This bitterness follows him everywhere and strains his marriage, as well as his relationships with both his sons.
His eldest son from a past relationship, Lyons (played by actor Russell Hornsby) comes by every time like clockwork on his father’s pay day to borrow $10. Troy gives him a hard time because he thinks that Lyons needs to get a real job like other grown men instead of playing music in pubs around town and following a silly dream. Lyons does not understand why his father does not support his dreams and still carries the pain of not growing up with his father around, even though they have a 'relationship' presently. Rose has a soft spot for Lyons and always manages to calm Troy down and get him to help his son. It is only later, when Troy shares a memory from his childhood that we begin to see the root.
His youngest son, and the only child between him and Rose, cannot see eye to eye with his father. He loves baseball and has joined the team at school. His coach believes that his talent and grades are good enough to get him into college someday. Troy’s bitterness becomes an obstacle for Cory (played by actor Jovan Adepo). They are constantly at war, with every argument ending with threats from Troy, “you better not strike out”. Cory believes his father does not like him. Instead of giving his son reassurance, Troy hands him tough love.
Although Cory wants to make his father proud by playing baseball, Troy does not want that for him. There is clearly a fear that the system has not changed, even though Rose insists that it has, and Troy does not want Cory to end up disappointed, bitter and unaccomplished like him. “I want him to get as far away from my life as he can”, he tells Rose while she tries to defend their son. So Troy creates chores for Cory every weekend, including putting up a fence for their yard, that are meant to take up all his time and keep him away from baseball. He also demands that Cory get a job because a man needs to take care of his own (Cory has a girlfriend). His cold manner ultimately leaves him and Cory estranged.
Troy and Rose’s marriage is put to the ultimate test, when after a conversation with Bono, Troy confesses a dark secret. Everything comes crashing down on Rose when she realizes the lie and betrayal she has been living under for eighteen years. Troy tries to explain the root to everything. His unhappiness with himself and how life turned out, without any regard for Rose’s disappointments and unhappiness. We see Rose stand up for herself for the first in the film, crying out for all her sacrifices. “What about MY life?” she asks. If Troy thinks he has given up a lot to be standing here, she has given up everything. Has Troy ever considered this?
After sometime, Rose finds a way to forgive Troy because she loves this man. She wants to fix what is broken, but his arrogance gets in the way, until a call comes through one night and his enemy death has taken something away from him. Troy promises death that it won’t get him. That he will be ready to wrestle it when it comes for him, again.
Troy now realizes that he needs Rose for this new chapter in his life. He has always needed Rose. She has been the pillar of their home. She is the only one who knows how to take care of anyone or anything and he is useless and afraid without her.
We see Rose once again, put aside her pain and decide to focus on the good that is before them. She picks up the pieces that he broke and holds everything together to the end, like most women have done and continue to do.
A must watch!
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