Thursday, August 22, 2013
Oscar Grant (played by Michael B. Jordan) is a young 22 year old Black man, just recently out of jail for dealing in drugs, and he is trying to make a better life for his daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal) who he loves unconditionally, starting a life with her mother Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and regaining his mother’s (Octavia Spencer) respect though he has never lost her love.
We follow Oscar on New Year’s Eve December 31, 2008, and see the various aspects of this man from caring for an animal that is hit by a car to not standing down to an ex-con he had problems with in jail. Like most men at that age he makes some mistakes like telling an ex-employer off and a few hours later helping people he doesn’t know. The love that he has for his daughter and the sweet human being he can be comes out with every scene with her.
“Fruitvale Station” is based on a true story of a Black man being shot by a white officer in the Bay area of San Francisco and some bad decisions made that New Year’s Eve. How many people outside of that area remember the story or even the name of Oscar Grant? Yes the same question could be asked about 3-4 years from now of how many people, outside of Florida, will remember the name Trayvon Martin.
Oscar was shot in the early morning hours of the new year by a white policeman who claimed he thought he was using his taser when he shot Oscar in the back. The scene is shown opening the movie as many phones recorded the whole event. What may not be known, or remembered, is what happened afterwards and that is told before the end credits are shown. The final scene will bring tears to your eyes unless you have no feelings left when it comes to the waste of a young man’s life and a daughter without a father.
This is the movie debut of writer/director Ryan Coogler and except for a few missteps, which could be a generational difference such as when he used music or the hand held camera, but he looks at what happened on the subway station with a cold eye, and compassion, working together, so you know he is not manipulating the viewer and when they gasp it is from the heart.
Michael B. Jordan gives an award winning performance as does Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz and the young Ariana Neal. This is a good film but just misses being a must see one due to the opening scenes which takes away from the impact.