Sunday, August 11, 2013
Fruitvale Station is one of the best dramas of 2013.
Cast: Michael B Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer
Writer and Director: Ryan Coogler
**** out of Four.
Every year there is one movie that effects me emotionally or in other words gets me bawling like a small child with a skin knee. Last year it was "The Impossible" and this year it's "Fruitvale Station". This is an extremely powerful film from first time filmmaker Ryan Coogler and featuring an amazing cast of astonishing actors including a first rate performance from Michael B Jordan as Oscar Grant. If the Academy seriously doesn't consider Mr Jordan as a main contender for Best Actor. There is something seriously wrong with that institution.
I have heard about the shooting of Oscar on the news back in 2009 so I was aware of what happens at the end. The movie opens with the real life cell phone footage of the cops who shot him. It then goes back and chronicles the last day of his life. The incident alone was indeed shocking, but what really impressed me about this film was that is never shows this main character to be a perfect guy. During the first scene, him and his girlfriend Sophina(Melonie Diaz) are fighting because she caught him with another woman. He sells drugs on the side and was recently in prison because of it. He also has not been able to keep a job and was recently fired from his last one because he kept coming in late. This is not a perfect person, but despite the man's flaws. You can easily see just how nice and sweet he is to everyone around him. He even helps a female customer with finding ingredients for a perfect fish fry. Now the girl was cute and Oscar is handsome enough that it could have turned into a flirtation one, but I'm glad that it just focused more on his general good nature. The moments he has with his daughter Tatiana(Ariana Neal) are also very heartwarming. This is a man who wants a much better life for her then he has, and does nothing but inspire the very best in her. Those scenes makes it that much more tragic because you already know the outcome for him. It was also interesting to see that Oscar's last day on earth was not that special. He drops off his kid at school, goes to the store to pick up food, and does the basic everyday things that you and I do.
There was no way anyone would know that something like this would have happened. In a way it reminded me of Gaspar Noe's"Irreversible" which shows the night of a woman who was later raped and beaten(but told in a backwards style). She too had a very mundane sort of day before something tragic happened. In "Fruitvale Staion" I liked that it's focus was more about an innocent man getting shot then focusing or blaming on the one who did it When you watch that end scene. It's really unclear if the cop who shot Oscar had any intent. It was a situation that was handled poorly by the transit police and it is something that should have never happened. This is a very heavy movie, but I don't want you to avoid it because it gets emotional. It is is not as dark and depressing as you may think. Yes,what happened to Oscar was tragic, but the man had tons of people who loved and cared about him I cant say that about too many people now. He was far from perfect but he had a good soul. I can not wait for the next movie from Director Ryan Coogler. This is a man who has a strong style and is able to get out of his actors some really intense and wonderful performances. Go see this now.