Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray
Directed by: Ryan Coogler
Synopsis: The purportedly true story of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.
The story of the shooting of Oscar Grant shortly after New Years Eve 2008., Fruitvale Station actually shows Grant, played by Michael B. Jordan, going about his daily business on that fateful day. And it is the fact that his day is pretty mundane and uneventful that gives the film such an impact at the end.
I must confess, not being from America, that I had never heard of Oscar Grant or the incident in question. I read the films synopsis and it didn’t give anything away about what happens, but did intimate that something DOES happen. I did read that Grant was shot, but that was all I knew going into the film as I wanted to be shocked at the end. Unfortunately I think the film makers expected all viewers to already be familiar with the story, because any sense of shock was vanquished at the beginning when they show actual footage of the incident. I can’t decide whether it should have been put at the end because it removed the surprise element, or whether it actually was a good thing because it built up the anticipation as to what was about to occur.
The film is, let’s face it, all about what happens at the end. The bulk of the film just highlights that Oscar Grant was similar to most people, he had his good points and bad points. He had been in prison, he had cheated on his girlfriend at some point, he could be aggressive, he had lost his job due to constant lateness. But he also had a compassionate side, a caring side and a polite and gentle side. He cared about his family and was reflective on his mistakes. Unfortunately due to some simple twists of fate, coupled with some overly aggressive police officers, he ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I thought the acting was OK although nothing out of the ordinary, and I thought the hospital scenes after the shooting weren’t really needed. It would have possibly been better to end it at, well, Fruitvale Station. Most people who the movie was aimed at were presumably familiar with the outcome of the story, so the hospital scenes seemed kind of pointless and just served to tack on a few minutes to the run time.
Having said that, the film did a pretty good job of portraying a man’s final few hours. Unfortunately, in this case, it happens to be a true story.