For the first time in history, I have seen every movie nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. Some of them (La La Land, Manchester By The Sea) I would have seen straight away anyway, a couple I would have caught at some point (Hacksaw Ridge/Hidden Figures) and a couple I may never have gravitated towards – Lion and Fences come to mind.
So imagine my delight when Fences turns out to be the other Kendall five star film, along with the aforementioned La La Land. It is a staggeringly powerful film, notice how I am using the word ‘film’ instead of ‘movie’ now, it just seems like one of those pictures which is important and gains your respect and immense admiration.
Fences looks and feels like a theatre production, for obvious reasons, but this does not deflect from its power, quite the opposite, it means you can concentrate on the strength of its words and the performances shining throughout. There are very few characters in Fences. Most of the action is a twofer between Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, both of whom give stunning turns here and without adding spoilers, because part of the power is how you watch the events change the people, watching one fail whilst the other watches is utterly heartbreaking.
Viola Davis should be a no doubt Oscar winner for this film, although it seems strange that she is up for Best Supporting when she is the heart and soul of Fences. Yet perhaps in a year when La La Land is rightly going to sweep the board, this at least gives Davis the award she rightly deserves. She is epic.
The film’s title is spot on. Whilst ‘Lion’ explains its title and leaves you sort of shrugging, Fences are not only the thing that you aim to clear on the baseball field, but also the things that keep people out. Or keep them in. There are moments where it can also mean the claustrophobia of certain scenes, when a family home seems like the most isolated place in the world. You won’t leave Fences without wanting to hug your loved ones and perhaps tear down some of those fences we put up everyday. Man that sounds pretensious, but this is a multi layed delight that manages to entertain and make you think. What more do you want from cinema?