By Michael P Coleman

A lot has been written and said about Viola Davis’ stunning performance in the Denzel Washington-directed Fences.  Her name is being mentioned as a potential Oscar contender. 

Every word you read about that is absolutely true.  Davis is incendiary on screen, forcing you to feel every emotion her character displays as she manages the ups and downs of a life that may not have been lived to its fullest. 

It’s been a long time since I saw a movie theatre crowd applaud after a performance.  In Fences, Davis delivers a crying, knee-buckling, nose-running monologue that’s not to be missed.  It left every woman cheering midway, and earned an ovation from the entire audience after Davis was done. 

But to talk about Davis too much is, perhaps, not giving enough attention to Washington, who also stars in the movie.  I’m not a die-hard Denzel fan.  For me, his performances are either brilliant (X, Philadelphia) or lacking (Flight, The Preacher’s Wife).  At his best, Washington the actor disappears behind the characters he plays, and that’s absolutely true in the new Fences.  From his first moments on film, he captivates, as his character devolves.  Washington delivers one of the best performances of his career.

Both actors are reprising roles they played in 2010 on Broadway.   The film’s supporting cast is good, too, but honestly, I think those actors suffered from being in a movie with Washington and Davis.  Their presence on screen filled the entire theatre, and their character’s arcs left me thinking long after I walked out. 

If I were Davis, I’d be picking out a dress and getting that Academy Award acceptance speech together.  Washington might want to clean up and get some thoughts together, too.

Fences is in theaters everywhere. 


Michael P Coleman

This review was written by Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman. Connect with him at or on Twitter.


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