Viola Davis and her first Oscar in "Fences" (2016)
I said her "first" because I'm absolutely sure Viola is taking another golden-man in her next movies. Oh, how I love Viola Davis! She stole my attention when she starred in Doubt (2010). Her scene was short but she did bring an intensely emotion-squeezing moment (which seems to be her forte as an actress). For that part, she earned an Oscar nomination.
Her second nomination came 3 years later in "The Help", a perfect mixture of drama and comedy. I watched "The Help" 11 times and bought 2 books: the English and Bahasa version. Although Viola showed us once again that she is undoubtedly a brilliant actress, her co-star Octavia Spencer took the Oscar home thanks to her killing line "Eat my shit!"
Five years later, the Academy gathered these two actresses (including Emma Stone, who also starred in The Help) in the same nomination: Best Supporting Actress. Octavia, who delivered a comical-mixed solemn performance in "Hidden Figures", was competing head-to-head to Viola who portrayed a character named Rose in "Fences". I had watched Hidden Figures, it is a very entertaining movie (Taraji P. Henson is the main character and I absolutely love her too!) Viola's winning gave me a good chill - I think we all agree that it's about time for her to win a damn Academy Award. Unfortunately I hadn't watched "Fences" after the Oscar and I was curious: how powerful is it to help Viola earn her first Oscar?
"Fences" seems to be a low-budget movie (that reminds me to Jennifer Lawrence's bland and cold "Passengers"). It is adopted from a Pulitzer-winning play by August Wilson, directed and also starred by Denzel Washington. Sounds big, eh? I had mix feelings about Fences - the memory of how excited I was before watching Viggo Mortensen's "The Road" in 2009 and the disappointment that appeared afterwards kept me alert. Nevertheless, I got the movie and watched it.
It started with Denzel, doing his semi-monologue alongside his colleague, Bono (played by Stephen Hendersen). It gave me one sign: this is a heavy drama. Words started to flow in from both characters, majorly dominated by Denzel who played Troy - the main character of the movie. The story evolved around Troy and his family. Viola showed up on a later-to-be repetitious backyard set and did her part. It looked like a normal chit chats between a pair of husband-and-wife with their colleague. Story started to develop with the additional character, Lyons - Troy's son from his previous marriage, Cory - his son with Rose, and Gabe, his mentally-impaired brother but nothing surprised me yet.
And suddenly, in the middle of the movie, Troy admitted to Rose (Viola's character) that he's having a child with another woman, the invisible Alberta. This marked the climax of the movie where Troy and Rose argued in the backyard. Troy - who obviously possessed major traits of a Gemini man - defensed himself by saying that he needed space, something that he missed since his marriage with Rose. It wasn't an acceptable reason for Rose to justify her husband's cheating. The scene was strong, dramatic but non-violent. Viola did her cry and yes, it went just as heartbreaking as you may expect.
|At first they seemed like a happily-married couple. But we all know|
a movie needs a climax. And what could be a more common issue
in a marriage but cheating?
The later parts of the movie felt fast-paced and repulsive. Troy had a heart attacked and after his funeral, his wife won an Oscar witnessed by his alter-ego Denzel in an audience seat.
What seems to be the problem?
I applaud Viola's performance as Rose. Both Viola and Denzel gave us a light yet intense interaction towards each other and just as bold as with the other characters. The early scence of Fences already gave hints for an emotional climax, but that's just it. That part was anticipated - the movie still needs to have a climax somehow. Viola was excellent in organizing her emotions - she cried, she yelled, she was sad and angry, all in the expected time. Everything went well but just as they all are - I lost the sense of surprise I normally expect when watching a 2-hours movie. The bottomline is: it's powerful, but predictable.
On the contrary, Denzel's succeed to deliver a more interesting character. I see Troy as a multi-faceted man with an unique perspective towards life. Denzel did an amazing job in cultivating his character and it was surprising to see his opinion on a disturbing issue, such as cheating. Troy reminds me pretty much of my father (who is also a Gemini). He's unpredictable but in some ways, thoughtful and reliable.
I'm not saying that Viola didn't reserve her Oscar. She did reserve it. In fact, I could certainly say she must at least predict it. The past 2 years were a big time for her career and I'm happy for her achievements. However, after seeing her playing mostly serious parts in movies and TV series, I'd like to see more of Viola. Seems like her characters are circulating between an oppressed woman or a powerful but turn-out to be another oppressed woman. She has more in her palette, I'm sure. I hope there will be more characters that could be play by Viola.
And oh, congratulations Viola! I love you!