Denzel Washington can currently be seen leading a ragtag team of outlaws and/or lone gunslingers on the big screen in director Antoine Fuqua's western remake, The Magnificent Seven. However, the two-time Oscar winner will be back on the big screen later this year in Fences, a film adaptation of August Wilson's acclaimed 1983 play (of the same name) that secured the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play in 1987. Years later in 2010, a revival of the play also snagged both Washington and Viola Davis Tony Awards for their performances. Suffice it to say, Fences has something of a prestigious legacy.
Washington and Davis are reprising their onstage roles in the Fences movie adaptation as, respectively, the fifty-something former professional baseball player Troy Maxson and his wife, Rose. The story takes place in 1950s Pittsburgh, where Troy makes his living serving as a garbage collector and trying to provide for his family, even as he struggles to come to terms with the events from his past. Paramount Pictures has now released the first trailer for Fences, which you can check out above.
The above Fences trailer highlights both the film's setting - as well as the literal fences that separate Troy and his family from their neighbors - while at the same time alluding to the figurative fences between Troy and one of his sons (read: emotional barriers), as well as the racial barriers that exist in the '50s and their effects on the lives of Troy and his loved ones. It's an effective tease that avoids merely spelling out the movie's plot and instead banks primarily on the power of Washington delivering an emotionally-charged monologue to help sell Fences to the masses unfamiliar with Wilson's lauded source material.
Wilson completed a script draft for the Fences movie adaptation prior to his death in 2005, though his fellow Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner (the screenwriter of Steven Spielberg's Munich, Lincoln and the upcoming The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara) reportedly carried out uncredited rewrites on Wilson's script thereafter. Between its source material's reputation, a script penned by two celebrated writers and Washington directing himself and Davis in roles which they are clearly quite comfortable with, the Fences movie reads as an obvious awards season-contender on paper alone (to say nothing of its electrifying teaser trailer).
Although Washington's previous two feature-length directorial efforts were generally well-received (see Antwone Fisher and The Great Debaters), neither made a strong enough impression to gain much traction during their awards seasons runs - raising the question if Fences will follow suit or buck that trend. Paramount does appear to be hedging its bets on potential awards season contenders this year, seeing as the studio is releasing such buzzed-about titles as Denis Villeneuve's Arrival, Robert Zemeckis' Allied and Martin Scorsese's Silence in the final two months of 2016, in addition to Fences. Which of these auteur-driven vehicles ultimately emerges at the front of the pack (and which one(s) get left in the dust), that remains to be seen.
Fences opens in U.S. theaters on December 25th, 2016.
Source: Paramount Pictures