Fruitvale Station Review
What’s It About? Fruitvale Station (15) recounts the final 24 hours of Oscar Grant’s (Michael B. Jordan) life. The harrowing true story brings forward the injustice of his murder which took place in the early hours of New Years Day 2009 at Fruitvale Station, California.
Verdict? Fruitvale Station follows Oscar throughout New Years Eve 2008. From dropping his girlfriend (Melonie Diaz) off at work, being the model father to his four-year-old daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal) and arranging a birthday celebration for his mother (Octavia Spencer), it is clear to see that Oscar is a good guy. Even though the film does not sugarcoat his shady past, which includes jail sentences and drug dealing, it is apparent that Oscar is determined to turn his life around and do right by his family.
At times the constant reinforcement of just how great Oscar is becomes a little bit overbearing as the first 45 minutes are basically a compilation of scenes that paint Oscar in the best possible light – from helping strangers to stray dogs, Oscar manages it all in just one day. It almost seems as if the film is trying to convince everybody that how incredible Oscar was makes his murder all the more unjust. However, even if Oscar hadn’t come to the aid of a dog or helped the stranger in the supermarket, or even if he wasn’t constantly playing with his daughter, his murder was still a heinous injustice. The real Oscar was indisputably a good guy, but the way the film focuses on painting him like a saint almost looks as though it is trying to justify the outrage that surrounds his murder, when in reality it is obvious that the outrage is justified.
Much of Fruitvale Station’s strength comes through the breathtaking and realistic performances from all involved. Jordan shines as protagonist Oscar and Spencer brings a sense of warmth and serenity to her part as his mother, however, it is Diaz who steals every scene she is in as Oscar’s long-suffering girlfriend and mother of his child. The relatively unknown actress is a natural in the role and is incredible even when she is not the focal point of the scene. Her reaction during the film’s climax and final scenes is heartbreaking to watch, and it is her believability as a character that makes their relationship and the situation seem so real, making it all the more difficult to watch.
Despite knowing the film’s story before watching, it still has a deep, emotional impact on the audience, which is a testamant to the skills of director Ryan Coogler and the actors involved. You will leave the cinema feeling outraged, but grateful that Oscar’s story is told.
Final Words: Fruitvale Station is not without its flaws, but overall it is a powerful and heartrending film that explores serious issues which continue to plague society. The film gives the people behind the headlines a relatable identity as it retells a true story of injustice, and in doing so it brings Oscar Grant back into the public memory proving that, although he may be gone, he will never be forgotten.
Fruitvale Station (15) is in UK cinemas from 6 June 2014.
Check out Flicks And The City’s interview with director Ryan Coogler about Fruitvale Station, his new Rocky movie Creed, and his thoughts on Michael B Jordan’s role in the Fantastic Four reboot: