Sunday, August 04, 2013

Fruitvale Station

Written and directed by Ryan Coogler, "Fruitvale Station" retraces the last day in the life of Oscar Grant before he was detained and killed by police in the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland California. The film is based on real events that were captured on video by other passengers on the train. 

The film opens with one of those videos and then in flashback, we learn how Mr. Grant spent his last day, New Years Eve 2009. Some of the events of the day are obviously accurate, preparing for his mothers birthday dinner, going out with his friends to celebrate New Year's Eve but scenes of Mr. Grant alone can only be assumed by Mr. Coogler.

We see, that while he had a minimal criminal past, he was trying to turn his life around for himself, his girlfriend and small daughter. He is not portrayed as a saint but an average guy trying to get by in a difficult life. As imagined by Mr. Coogler, the day presents some challenges but is fairly uneventful until the tragic circumstances at Fruitvale.

Mr. Grant is played by Michael B. Jordan and he is excellent in the part. He has a very natural way about him and is very engaging. His girlfriend is played by Melonie Diaz and their scenes together have an authentic tenderness about them. Octavia Spencer plays his mother, Wanda and she at her most powerful in scenes just after the shooting.

This is Mr. Coogler's first feature film and it has created a deserving buzz. He doesn't try to manipulate the audience with cheap sympathies. He presents a portrait of a man, through an objective lens and lets the audience draw their own conclusions from a horribly tragic moment.

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