Filmmaker Ryan Coogler makes his feature directorial debut with this drama centered on the tragic shooting of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a vibrant 22-year-old Bay Area father who was senselessly gunned down by BART officers on New Year's Day in 2009, and whose murder sent shockwaves through the nation after being captured on camera by his fellow passengers. Octavia L. Spencer, Melonie Diaz, and Kevin Durand co-star.~Jason Buchanan
Moving is the best way to describe Fruitvale Station. The movie from writer/director Ryan Coogler depicts the “true story” of Oscar Grant’s (played by the phenomenal Michael B. Jordan (not to be confused with six time NBA champion and Space Jam star Michael Jordan)) last day before he was tragically killed by a police officer at Fruitvale Station (hence the title of the film).
The film’s opening is very slow as we follow and experience the nuances of Oscar’s life. We see his relationship with drugs and drug dealing, and more importantly, his relationship with his daughter, Tatiana (Ariana Neal). This relationship organically plays out and allow us to relate with Oscar’s life and his desperation to support his daughter. This slow progression is a little tedious and boring, but it has an incredible pay off in the third act. More on the third act later.
Coogler goes out of his way to turn Oscar into a sympathetic character. In almost every scene, Oscar is portrayed as the victim or the “good guy.” Under less capable hands, this could come off as corny, but Coogler and Jordan approach it with such honesty and believability that it becomes real. Oscar truly feels like a multilayered character and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Jordan’s name mentioned many times during award season.
Outside of Jordan’s portrayal as Oscar, every actor is strong in their different roles. Special mention goes out to Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer, who plays a small supporting role as Oscar’s mother. Her character is a little underdeveloped, but shines in the third act, where she allows the audience to feel the anguish and suffering of a mother who is stricken with guilt (I will not spoil why she feels guilty).
Suffering is a good way to describe the third act of the movie. As Oscar and his gang enter Frutivale Station, the film intensifies. We hold our breath and cringe during every second, as the film becomes very emotional. I don’t want to spoil why it is so emotional, so I’ll give you a personal experience that helps demonstrate this fact. At the end of my screening, during the credits, a man in the audience became so emotionally compelled that he yelled out: “fuck the police” at the top of his lungs. While it killed the tension for me, which was palpable beforehand, it showed how moving this film was for people. I am not joking, the third act of this film is the definition of moving, saddening (if you want happy-go-lucky go see Smurfs 2), but totally worth the price of admission.
Overall, Fruitvale Station is anchored by Oscar-worthy acting and great directing, and at the end of the film, you’ll be just like Oscar’s mother and just need a hug.
This was a great movie, and it seems like it did its job in terms of showcasing Michael B. Jordan's talent as an actor. He was charismatic and likable throughout, and that's part of the problem. The movie does an excellent job of showing Oscar Grant's last day on earth, of showing the journey of a young man who wakes up one day and realizes that his life had to change before it went too far off track. With that being said, it's important to realize that this was a movie and not a documentary, and that no one should be watching this trying to obtain all the facts. It's a tragically beautiful film, and one that everyone should watch, but it is a little heavy-handed in making its point.
I would recommend this to a friend
Rated 5 out of 5 stars
Must see of 2013
While attention was being given to The Butler and 12 Years a Slave, Frutivale Station is easily the best "African American film" of the year. The movie is a really smart portrayal of Oscar Grant, played by Michael B. Jordan (was in tv show Friday Night lights). Jordan did a great job playing a young man who was, like all of us, complex. The story looks at the day in Grant's life before he was killed at the Fruitvale Station by a BART cop. The story is special because is shows the daily choices that we all make that lead us in one direction and the contrasting choices that are made for some people because of being profiled
I followed the Oscar Grant story in the news, however seeing his senseless murder, as depicted on the big screen, makes it that much more powerful of an image about the dehumanizing treatment of people-of-color in the United States. Although the story may have raised red flags in the American psyche, they have not been raised high enough, as the story of Oscar Grant is still repeated too frequently across the country. Michael B. Jordan has a “breakout" performance and will be heard from in future big-screen movies. I recommend this movie to each and every American and hope that it might trigger a positive response to address these American tragedies.
Bittersweet story of a real tragedy. It makes me uncomfortably aware of how imperfect our world is and how imperfect we are. There are high and low moments of everyday people trying to enjoy life, each other, a little bit of happiness, and just trying to make it. All this leading up to a heartbreaking ending. I left the theater with a lot of what if(s) and a strong feeling "that it just didn't have to happen that way"!
This film took me by surprise because I was unaware it was based on a true story...Michael B. Jordan is a young actor to watch and Octavia Spencer was magnificent as always...The character was flawed and he was in a struggle to overcome his mistakes. What tugged at my heart is when he lay dying and he continued to repeat "I have a daughter. I have a daughter." The character truly loved his daughter, his family..
Emotional, powerful, griping…these are just some of the words that sum up “Fruitvale Station.” In his first feature length film, director Ryan Coogler really nailed the emotion the story needed and Michael B. Jordan’s performance is incredible. Both these elements work so well together that it makes the film hit home and makes the viewer remember that Oscar Grant, the victim in this film and true story