Washington gives a magnetic, layered performance, backed by a largely superb cast, most of whom reprise their roles from the Broadway revival of Wilson's classic.
I respect [Washington] for not attempting to "open up" the play just to make it seem more "cinematic."
With the level of acting talent involved, Fences could have been filmed in the parking lot of a pet store and still been just as effective.
Fences is moviemaking as public service, like PBS's Masterpiece Theater: an accessible adaptation of a necessary literary work that few will ever have the opportunity to see onstage.
It will not come as a news flash that Mr. Washington is a movie star of the first rank... what he does here is both sizzling and subtle, a star performance that does equal justice to the play's poetry and kitchen-sink reality.
In bringing August Wilson to the screen for the first time, director-star Washington does the playwright proud by refusing to slice Fences into small pieces and serve it to short attention spans
Washington's role is obviously meaty, and he plunges into it with a mix of swagger and vulnerability. But it's Davis, not surprisingly, who really shakes the rafters, in a performance tailor-made for her.
The combination of top acting and the powerful rhythm of the language in the drama's celebrated high spots absolutely holds us.
Even as it properly foregrounds Wilson's dialogue - few playwrights have approached his genius for turning workaday vernacular into poetry - "Fences" is much more than a filmed reading.