This truly is a remarkable film. It is made with so much delicate care and craftsmanship, the entire two hours and nineteen minutes is fluid and seamless. It’s the picture that feels like Denzel Washington has been working his entire career to not only make, but perfect.
Set in a dilapidated Negro ghetto in 1954, Washington is the tough and oblique patriarch of a family suffocated by their hopes and washout of the American Dream. Viola Davis not only gives her career best performance, as Washington’s steadfast wife, she easily gives one of the best performances in recent cinematic memory.
While the performances and Washington’s perfection behind the camera are a sight to behold, the cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen, production design by David Gropman, and editing by Hughes Winborne are so perfect, they go unnoticed. As the film progresses, whether it is a performance, an aesthetic, or a technical aspect, they work in such unison that nothing stands out, the score does not out perform the editing nor does the writing outshine Davis.
The narrative strikes a hidden chord between being timeless and culturally and politically relevant. It’s a tough story about a (black) working class family that deals with the conventional setbacks of life, yet they have their own uniquely complex set of hurdles that are undoubtedly self inflicted.
FENCES is truly the epitome of a Best Picture. Everything, and I mean everything, is perfected in the film. It has all the ingredients to be that Best Picture, but what makes the film surpass the run of the mill, end of the year Oscar bait, is at its core it is filled with an unmatched amount of heart about what it is to be a family.