Thursday, August 1, 2013

Movie Review: "Fruitvale Station" (2013)

Movie: "Fruitvale Station"
Director: Ryan Coogler
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hours, 25 minutes
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The true story of Oscar Grant (portrayed by Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year old convicted drug dealer, who is trying to make amends in his life on New Years Eve and New Years Day 2009, the last day of his life. The movie opens up with real-life footage from the incident at Fruitvale Station in Oakland, CA, where Oscar was shot by a BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) police officer after he and several others were apprehended on the train for fighting. Oscar was unarmed at the time he was shot, and was taken to a local area hospital, where he died from internal bleeding. This movie showcases his last day alive, from fights with his girlfriend Sophina (portrayed by Melonie Diaz) and allegations of Grant's infidelity, the loss of his job at a supermarket due to tardiness, his mother's (portrayed by Octavia Spencer) birthday, his near slip back into life as a drug dealer, and his love for his daughter Tatiana (portrayed by Ariana Neal).

Most of this film is reliant upon the last 15 minutes, the climactic scene at Fruitvale Station where Oscar is shot. The portions of the film leading up to the shooting aren't particularly interesting, though throughout the film, the director intended to show how Oscar was beginning to turn his life around for the better, but he never got the chance. The fact that this movie is based on a true story is sad, especially since we live in the state where this tragedy occurred and we had never even heard of this shooting taking place. Michael B. Jordan acted wonderfully as Oscar Grant, as did the rest of the cast as his friends and family. It turns out that many plot points in the film were dramatized (the scene with the dog, the scene where he dumps his drug stash into the ocean is questionable), but this is expected with any true life film adaptation; the director takes very few liberties with the final scene at Fruitvale Station, though, duplicating the event faithfully, even returning to the platform where the shooting took place.

I cried hard, harder than I have in a long time at a movie. It made me sad, and then made me angry. There are still a lot of injustices going on in our country and around the world, and I think that we're desensitized to things like this happening. BigJ wasn't as moved as I was, though. There's no way around it: this event was a tragedy, no matter how you look at it. It's sad that so many people had their lives changed or even ended forever because of one careless act by an overzealous policeman.

It's important that people watch this film and educate themselves on what happened. Because so many people are unaware of the incident, it's good that movies like this gain traction in order to bring awareness to tragedies like this one.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 93%
Do we recommend the film: Sure, why not?

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