First let me say that this is a powerful, engaging film. Seemingly, however stereotypical, the opening of this movie feels like a stage play exposition. Although moving forward I found myself increasingly involved in the life of, to me, a thoroughly selfish, almost despicable, protagonist. Denzel Washington inhabits his role as one would fit into a perfectly tailored suit. The depth of his character fits him like a glove. The dislike of his "Troy' is palpable. It is Viola Davis' performance that gives us any acceptance, and even a modicum of empathy, for his unrelenting dis- likability. Her 'Rose' is a tour-de-force and one of the most honest performances ever put on film.
I personally see it as less a film about a man coming to grips with prejudice than as a damaged child trying to make sense of a world over which he was unable to reconcile his life. In the greater scheme of things, yes, he had a menial job, but he did have a job. He has a family that he treats as possessions rather than people. When his son accuses him of not wanting him to surpass his father in life, there is a validity to the claim.
The direction, cinematography, music and period feel, with the exception of an uneven opening, proves Washington a masterful film maker. The difficulty in adapting a stage play to the screen is almost overcome with only a few scenes playing like a filmed stage set.
If it were up to me both Denzel and Viola would receive the top 'Best' academy awards with Denzel also receiving a nomination for best director. Unfortunately the stiffness of the script, in my opinion, should keep it from a best film nomination (although it will probably get one). As a side note, it seems silly for Viola Davis to be entered into the competitions in a supporting category. She is the strength of the movie and in too many scenes to even be considered 'supporting.'
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