Denzel Washington brings to the screen a play by August Wilson, filled with searing performances and meaty dialogue but hamstrung somewhat by its lack of cinematic quality.
Troy (Washington) is a middle-aged man working as a refuse collector trying to get through to Friday every week. He is filled with bitter regrets of not being able to play baseball in the major league because of the colour of his skin and his hard life. Those people around him seemingly trapped and crushed in his gravitational pull are his wife Rose (Viola Davis) and his son Corey (Jovan Adepo). The film is a series of character set pieces mostly set in his back yard where Troy talks about building a fence.
The 2hr 19m running time is filled with complex and eloquent dialogue with most scenes no more than 2 or 3 people discussing life and the things they have made of it. The actors are outstanding, as they should be, given that the 5 lead roles are all filled by the same actors who performed the play on Broadway 114 times. But, this is also the biggest flaw. This is a play put on film. It lacks any real cinematic quality and at times the lack of any kinetic energy makes it drag. These performances on stage would have been electric, but with the barrier of a screen, it feels admirable but sometimes staid.