Directing something you're starring in is tough, and I've seen very few pull it off successfully - I personally suck at it. If you're lucky, just your performance suffers (see Argo), when you're less fortunate both the film and acting aren't quite where they should be. I think a little bit of that happens here, especially with the start of the film Fences.
The film is fine, and the performances strong - Denzel is
good, but when you're used to excellent as the bar for him, then good is a little disappointing. Viola brought the usual brilliance but the surprise awesomeness for me was Russell Hornsby.
I've seen him in a few things before but this was the first time I actually sat up and took notice. And overall, having most of the Broadway cast return for the film lent a strong sense of familiarity to all their connections with each other, and made for a comfortable and accustomed chemistry.
The power of August Wilson’s words continue to resonate. We saw Fences with a responsive audience at the Culver City Cinemark, and my fellow black women made their thoughts audible at each neatly landed statement. The film entertained, engaged and also gave my partner and I a lot to reflect on about the nature of our own relationship and co-dependence. An evening well spent.