Fruitvale Station

July 27th, 2013  |  Published in Featured, Recent Reviews

fruitvale station ver2 xlg Fruitvale StationDirector Ryan Coogler brings the story of Oscar Grant to the public eye in the brilliantly filmed biography “Fruitvale Station.” Though there are a handful of similar untold stories, Coogler does all of them justice by intentionally or unintentionally giving those affected by these or other closely related events, a rallying cry against police brutality and racial conflict in this country.

On the last day of 2008, Oscar spent his time preparing for his mother’s birthday, as well as his own future. Being an individual with a relatively colorful past, (something that Coogler doesn’t try to cover up-by showing snip-its of Oscar and his mother arguing in prison) the audience is led to believe that Oscar is starting down a path of reconstruction. Although he is in need of money and contemplates selling the ounce of weed he has stored in his bedroom closet, he errs on the side of good and ends up dumping it all in the ocean. We, as viewers, believe that Oscar is a changing man.

The film is deep, thought-provoking and unfortunately very timely.  We are asked as audience member to  tune in on the life of an individual working to get his life  together while knowing all along how  this story ends (something of course, Oscar didn’t know).  Michael B. Jordan as Oscar, Melanie Diaz as Sophina (his girlfriend) and Octavia Spencer as Wanda (Oscar’s Mother) provide a flawless representation of what happened that fateful day and all that lead up to it. Their performances were measured, sincere and obviously driven with a heartfelt passion against the inequities of police brutality.

The director approaches the subject matter honestly and delicately by reserving very limited screen time to presenting the actual video footage of the shooting of Oscar Grant.  His choice to open and close the film with these scenes from the tragic event is done in a way to almost subconsciously tell the audience what they are about to see and then remind them of the severity of what had occurred.  In the middle is where  Coogler uses the majority of the film to focus on all of the events leading up to Grant’s final moments and this choice creates a rich and masterfully told story keeping you hanging on every moment.

Director Ryan Coogler has without a doubt hit a grand slam with “Fruitvale Station.” From the filming and camera work to the written story to the incredible acting talent that brought this story to life, this film is sure to evoke deep emotions in audiences across the country, especially in light of the Trayvon Martin verdict.

A warning: If you chose to see this film (and you should) , expect to leave the theater disturbed, angry, and with a call to action  to join any movement  for justice that you can find against the issues unearthed in the film.  After all, that was the intention.

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