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George At 

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Powerfully acted AND Directed by Denzel Washington, FENCES is a terrific film version of the August Wilson play that Denzel sold out on Broadway night after night.

Troy Maxson (Washington) is a former pro baseball player, now a sanitation worker in 1950's Pittsburgh.

Troy is a proud man resisting the world as it changes around him. He's fought for every inch he's gained and is determined that his son Cory (a terrific Jovan Adepo from "Overlord") gets no easy road from him.

He spends the first third of the film spinning tales of the past with humor and bravado. It's hard to tell how much of them are true, but he's clearly got a gift for storytelling and a charm that's mostly faded, but sparks.

Troy's wife Rose ( a brilliant Viola Davis, who won a Best Actress Academy Award for this performance) stands by him, but sees the world as it is.

Betraying its stage origins, the majority of the film takes place either at the Maxson's home or the nearby bar where Troy visits more often they he'll admit.

Stephen McKinley Henderson (Lincoln, Lady Bird) is neighbor and life long friend Jim Bono. He plays a key role in the film as the only outsider we see consistently interacting the family. He adds history and perspective to the Maxsons.

It's clear that he knows a lot about Troy and Rose since the start of their relationship. Like "August Osage County" the lead character is a less than exemplary head of household, mean-spirited, bitter and demanding.

The film's second half is a powerful series of reveals, detailing events past and present that hammer the relationships of all involved.

Washington and Davis are as good as actors get, sparring believably and conveying a level of personal pain and confusion that you can feel. Davis is stunning. She earned that Oscar.

The final act is a bit jarring, moving us all forward forward a decade for its finale. Wilson's writing is so strong (he adapted his own play for the screen) that he deftly moves you to a powerful, emotional close that never feels forced. The final moments are perfect.

I hope Washington directs more films, he's created something special here. FENCES packs a quiet punch, earning an A.

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