Star rating: 3.5/4
Starring: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis
Directed by Denzel Washington
Written by August Wilson
It is not easy to adapt a play. Especially when almost the entire play takes place in one house. Nevertheless, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis were brilliant as husband and wife in this cinematic adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by August Wilson. The screenplay, I’m assuming, very similar to the play in that it is very, very wordy. Especially in the beginning of the movie, I felt some of the dialogue could have been cut. Never mind the verbose dialogue, though. That’s about the only complaint I have for this near-perfect film.
To start, Denzel Washington was utter perfection. His performance absolutely broke my heart and took me to a new planet.
Viola Davis is one of my favorite actresses. She did a fantastic job as Troy’s devoted wife, Rose. I think that Denzel out shined her, however. I am also angry that she is up for all the supporting category awards. She was a leading lady. I think her performance will be overlooked by true supporting character performances (like Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea). I have not seen Jackie yet, which is supposedly a knock-out performance, but I hate that the best leading actress Oscar is becoming an unopposed race. Viola’s performance would be a strong contender.
Newcomer Jovan Adepo’s performance as Troy and Rose’s son, Cory, was exactly what it needed to be: mature. He’s a boy who was raised to be a grownup from the moment he could walk and talk. Adepo steals the show in the third act.
Overall, Washington did a lovely job directing. He used the close-up when he wanted us to pay attention. Otherwise the dialogue was a little bit in one ear and out the other. The dialogue is gripping, the performances literally force you to pay attention and care. Cinema may not be the optimum medium for this story, but who cares? It was a marvelous adaptation nonetheless. The movie knocked the breath out of me on more than one occasion.