Rental Review - Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station (2013), R, 85 minutes - This is a film that I've been meaning to check out for a while, and having recently seen writer/director Ryan Coogler's latest film Creed (also starring Michael B. Jordan), I finally had the motivation to seek this one out.

Fruitvale Station is based on actual events, and illustrates a single day (what turns out to be the final day) in the life of Oscar Grant, a man with a volatile past (that led to jail time), who is now trying to do right in the eyes of his daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal), girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), and mother Wanda (Octavia Spencer) while trying to figure out how to do so after recently losing his job.

Shot and presented in a the style of a documentary, Fruitvale Station really lets Michael B. Jordan shine.  You feel for Grant as Jordan's performance unfolds, as you see him work his way through the day with the love he has for his family as he tries to provide for them despite his work situation and his past.  It makes the tragic events at the end of the film that much more heart-wrenching: Grant lost his life after a subway altercation on New Year's led to police (Kevin Durand and Chad Michael Murray) using excessive force and his being accidentally shot by a cop.

This is admittedly a simplified version of the story for the sake of my review, so it is in no way meant to be a retelling of Oscar Grant's case.  If you are interested in the events this film is based upon, I urge you to seek out more information in any way possible.  Having no prior knowledge of the incident, and only having heard that this was a highly regarded film from a couple of years ago, I felt that it was a shocking and powerful re-telling of a misunderstanding that unnecessarily got out of hand (thanks to all parties involved).

Praise of this film was where I first heard of Michael B. Jordan (I had not yet seen Chronicle), and he is proving to be a fine young actor (despite the bomb that was 2015's Fantastic Four - which can't be faulted on his performance).  Coogler has also proven to be an up and coming writer/directer between this film and the added success of Creed.  He has also recently agreed to direct Marvel's Black Panther (2018).

I'm glad that I finally found the time to give Fruitvale Station a watch.  It is a strong film.  One that quite honestly portrays a life that I know nothing about.  Sometimes those are the most compelling stories.


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