Fruitvale Station – Movie Review
By Anne Brodie Jul 26, 2013, 14:23 GMT
The of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008. ...more
Forest Whitaker’s production company tackles the true story of Oscar Grant, a young black man shot in the back by police while he was lying on the ground the first morning of 2009.
He was detained following an incident on a BART subway returning home from New Year’s celebration with friends. He was just 22. The incident caused rioting and national outrages.
Grant, played masterfully by Michael B Jordan (The Wire), navigates through Dec 31, 2008, a normal day in the Fruitvale section of Oakland. He lovingly prepares his four year old daughter for school, tries to make up for keeping his wife in the dark about having lost his two weeks earlier and considers his future.
Grant shops for food for his mother’s ( Octavia Spencer) birthday dinner, chats with his brother who works behind the counter and helps a white girl pick ingredients for a , not as a come on but because he likes to help people. He’s a charming guy with good sense, but he’s prone to outbursts of anger.
Things are looking bad for employment and he wonders whether he will be forced to turn to crime to look after his girlfriend and their daughter. He meets a former colleague but decides against it. Grant served two terms in prison for drug dealing. The first to his demise was planted there.
An antagonistic ex-con o the crowded subway recognizes him from prison when Oscar’s name is called out. The man confronts Oscar and a fight breaks out. What happened after that was recorded on smartphones by horrified passengers providing news footage and court evidence of the “summary execution” of Grant by a BART officer.
Coogler’s script does the job; the film is smartly minimalist and performance driven. Jordan’s eyes convey every beat and nuance he experiences during his last day on earth. He’s sympathetic, he loved his family and they love him.
He had the same kinds of worries we all have, can he provide for his family, be faithful and meet people’s expectations of him? He fails as we all do. But he never got to finish the job. Jordan does it all with eerie efficiency and zero sentimentality. It is pure and simple storytelling.
Octavia Spencer plays Oscar’s mother, a woman who is on her last nerve with Oscar, up-to-here with his temper and inability to stop and think before acting. She is suspicious of him and it makes sense. No sentimentality.
The film points to the harsh reality that racism is alive and well. Oscar can’t find a greeting card with black people; the images of “normal” life are pure white.
Some police needlessly target black youths and take their as license to inflict pain and suffering and ruin lives. That was certainly the case for Oscar Grant and his family and friends.
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35mm drama Written and directed by Ryan Coogler Opens July 12 Runtime: 90 minutes MPAA: Country: USA Language: English