Set in 1950s Pittsburgh, depicting the life of Troy Maxson played by Denzel Washington. The somber film follows the life of Troy who once dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player, but was deemed too old to play. Current day Troy holds a steady job as a garbage collector, supporting his wife and son. The outcome of his misfortune creates a bitter undercurrent leading him to develop a passive aggressive personality that is often unleashed when he drinks. This unsolved bitterness is also clearly manifested towards his son, when he thwarts his chance to meet a college football recruiter, causing major strife within the family and an air of resentment.
The slow-burner of the film is Viola Davis playing Rose, who brings forward a very raw performance, she pushes the envelope and her role definitely molds the direction of the film. Strength and femininity are a few short words to describe Rose. Her husband Maxson remains faithful to her for eighteen years before he falls, which becomes the peak of the story, though remorseful Troy brings forth his own selfishness, he tells Rose he’s not leaving the other woman whom is now pregnant with his baby, he goes on to explain to her with a ‘woe is me’ excuse talking about how the other woman makes him happy, when he’s around her he doesn’t think about his troubles and responsibilities. Rose begins to unravel very deeply; she goes on to explain him:
“I gave eighteen years of my life to stand in the same spot with you. Don't you think I ever wanted other things? Don't you think I had dreams and hopes? What about my life? But I held on to you, Troy.”
Set at a time where it wasn’t the norm for wives to tear down their home and successfully live off independently when it comes to finances, Rose accepts and acknowledges the power Troy has over her and her life, she is just his wife. She stays and accepts to mother his out of wedlock child, Troy goes on to spend the rest of his life lonely, leading to a somewhat early death.
‘Fences’ is a film about how our environment shapes us, and how it can lead us into indoctrinating ourselves falsely which Troy vulnerably depicts. Rose is a portrayal of how the 1950’s women and even some women of today- spend their whole lives building their men, feeding into their dreams and forgetting about their needs and wants. Rose places a lot more value into the relationship more than Troy does, he takes from her emotionally, she builds him and creates a fence of unity around him protects the family unit but in the end who lost out, she sacrificed herself for the man she loved however he’s selfish gratifications got the best of him, than the sanctity of the marriage. Their marriage is no longer healthy but what they’ve built is far more important, whether the marriage makes the couple much healthier is neither here nor there.