Fruitvale Station (2013)

I saw Creed about a year ago and I was impressed with both Ryan Coogler (co-writer and director) and Michael B. Jordan (leading actor). Last month I saw Black Panther, also directed by Coogler and starring Jordan and I was even more impressed. I then checked their filmographies and Fruitvale Station popped out. I knew nothing about it, I saw the good rating and checked it out.

It's New Year's Eve, 2008. Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) is a 22-year-old ex-convict who lives with his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and his daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal). He feels something that day and decides to turn his life around. He has had enough with illegal stuff and he is committed to becoming a better son, a better boyfriend and a better father. He won't have a real chance at doing so because that night, on January 1 2009, he is shot in the back and killed by a police officer.


This is the true story of Oscar Grant, a story I didn't know because I don't live in the United States and back then this kind of news didn't make it to the news in my country (but they do now), and it's told in such a powerful and sensitive way it's impossible to remain unmoved.

Ryan Coogler handles the story and this social issues across America beautifully, with a lot of sensitivity, and makes a discussion of racism and police brutality without attacking (too much) racial injustice. He simply tells a story that is supposed to remind us that nobody deserves to die like that. Also, Coogler knows how to make his audience feel uneasy, uncomfortable, whether he's using real cell phone footage or shooting --the train station is very intense, even more intense than I was expecting--, and makes a great use of a shaky camera.

The Weinstein Company
Fruitvale Station would definitely not be the same without its brilliant cast. Michael B. Jordan gives a stunning performance as Oscar Grant. He gets to show us both the hot-tempered ex-convict and the loving father, boyfriend and son. He delivers Oscar's inner struggle almost entirely through his eyes and carries the film effortlessly. Though all the supporting cast is solid, Octavia Spencer (obviously) manages to stand out as Oscar's mother. Her character is a little stereotyped, but her performance is terrific and makes it believable. Also, her range of emotions is something else.

6 comments :

  1. I saw this at my local art house theater a few years ago as it's an intense film but certainly an unforgettable experience. I'm glad you're looking into Ryan Coogler's work as he's something special and I hope there's more good things to come from him.

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    1. Me too. I can't wait to see what he'll bring to us next.

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  2. I really liked this film. Coogler is a solid filmmaker.

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    1. He is. I'm really looking forward to his next projects, hoping more good stuff is coming.

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  3. This was the first Coogler film I saw and it's an amazing piece of work. He and Jordan make a phenomenal team. I hope we see plenty more of the two of them together.

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    1. I hope that too, they truly are amazing together.

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