Film adaptation of acclaimed August Wilson play, of which I was aware but knew next to nothing about it. Wilson himself wrote this film's screenplay and Denzel Washington not only has the main role, which is indeed a meaty one, but he also directs.
From the very opening the film betrays its theatrical roots - wordy, with some long set pieces, the majority of the speeches going to Washington's character. Many of the exchanges are nearer to soliloquies with minimal interruption from the other characters, rather than dialogues or group conversations. (My ears were tiring after just 20 minutes!)
Denzel Washington, a city rubbish collector in Pittsburgh in the 1950s, lives with his wife (Viola Davis - extraordinarily good - she deservedly recently won the Best Actress Oscar) and the younger of his two sons (Jovan Adepo - also particularly fine). Other characters are his elder son (Russell Hornsby) who drops by a couple of times, his mentally 'challenged' brother (Mykleti Williamson - not handicapped in the very severest sense, but clearly evident) - and his working colleague and best buddy (Stephen Henderson).
I have to confess that during the first hour of these two hours twenty minutes I was starting to think that it was all beginning to be a bit of a bore, and that the piece would work better in the theatre for which it was intended. Things then take dramatic turns, first between Washington's character and his wife, then between him and his live-in son, between the two of which there'd always been a simmering tension of mutual resentment. So from those points on the drama gets much more serious.
For me the film worked to a degree - heavy stuff it is but I think I'd rather see it on stage. And yes, I'd still pay good money to see it in such a venue, though I'm not sure that many others would. If this film brings the work to wider public attention then that's all to the good, but speaking personally, despite the playwright's own major contribution in bringing it to the screen, I'm not entirely sure that the final product does the play many favours.................6.5.
1 hour ago