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NEW YORK (CNS) -- Suffering is a leitmotif in any of August Wilson's plays, but there's also brutal honesty and joy in unexpected moments -- as well as the musical cadence of his language to enjoy.

That's what enlivens "Fences" (Paramount), the film adaptation of Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning work from 1983. Moral decisions, and the consequences of immoral ones, lurk at every turn in the plot as well.

Denzel Washington, who also directed (from Wilson's own screenplay, finished before his 2005 death), plays Troy Maxson, an embittered ex-ballplayer, ex-convict and self-centered Pittsburgh garbage collector.

It's the mid-1950s, and Troy has constructed a respectable, almost-middle-class existence for himself and wife Rose (Viola Davis). Partly that's the result of his unyielding labor, but Troy also takes advantage of brother Gabe's (Mykelti Williamson) disability payout from brain damage suffered in World War II combat.

Troy is bold enough to have become the city's first black garbage-truck driver simply by asking his supervisor why Pittsburgh had no such drivers. He takes pride in being the noisy and coarse family patriarch, even if he is often a monster who takes no pleasure in the accomplishments of his children.

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