2016 movie-based-on-a-play

Rating: 14/20

Plot: A bitter man in 1950s Pittsburgh deals with stuff.

I read this play in college and had just as much of a rewarding experience with just the text. I love the writing, thick with regionalisms and color, and the themes about fatherhood, being a man, and race are timeless and important.

I didn't really feel this filmed production added much. The period details are nice in what is essentially a one-setting story, and the performances are adequate, but the movie just lacks bite. It's gripping because of August Wilson's writing more than anything. Denzel Washington, who also directed, overdoes things a little bit, really seeming to enjoy spitting out some of these lines a little too much. Viola Davis snots things up again. I enjoyed Stephen Henderson's performance as Denzel's pal. Henderson actually got to be in two Best Picture nominees last year. The problem is that the performances never elevated above performances for me. They didn't really feel like real people, just actors playing these characters. And as a movie based on a play, the characters are very chatty. So for what seems like a lot longer than five acts, you're wading through all of these words delivered by people who are trying to win awards, and although those words are well written, it was still a lot to ask.

I think I would rather see this on stage.

It's not a bad movie at all. It's faithful to Wilson's material with themes still relevant today, but it's probably a little paint-by-numbers.

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