Movie Review Jackie K Cooper
"Fruitvale Station" (The Weinstein Company)
"Fruitvale Station" is a movie based on a true incident. A tragic event involving Oscar Grant occurred during the early hours of New Year's Day, 2009. Director Ryan Coogler leads the audience through the hours leading up to this harrowing event. He does so with precision and with dramatic tension, but also with a pace that allows the details of Oscar Grant's life to unfold at an understandable rate.
The film stars Michael B Jordan as Grant and he is excellent in the role. We see Oscar start his day at the house he shares with his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and their kindergarten age daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal). Grant is seen as a devoted family man as he takes his daughter to school and then shops for items for his mother's birthday celebration.
As we see the "ordinary" side of Oscar's life we also begin to see some of the flaws in his life. He is not a perfect man, but then who is perfect? And do any of the flaws we are shown lead to any justification for what happens to him on the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) platform in the early hours of New Year's Day/
Seeing at the start of the film that something bad happens to Oscar at the Fruitvale Station, the movie is almost unbearably suspenseful. The audience is placed on a roller coaster ride that ends in a tragic way and the emotional toll it places on the audience members is huge.
The film is brilliantly directed by Coogler and he gets sharp, direct performances from every single member of his cast. Jordan is getting the most praise, but notice should also be given to Octavia Spencer as Oscar's mother Wanda. Spencer projects such knowledge as the woman who has seen her child through his ups and downs and is finally fed up. A scene at the jail when Wanda walks away from Oscar is emotionally devastating because of the hurt and determination in Spencer's demeanor.
Diaz also has strong moments as the woman who loves Oscar. She too knows his strengths and weaknesses and chooses to stick with him. Neal is talented beyond her years as Tatiana. Her scenes with Grant hit the audience with a dynamic impact.
The film is rated R for profanity and violence.
"Fruitvale Station" is a movie with a message but the message is presented in a fully balanced manner. What happened to Oscar Grant was a tragedy. This movie presents his story as fairly as possible.
I scored "Fruitvale Station" a new year's 8 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper