Fruitvale Station (2013)
Ryan Coogler’s first feature-length film chronicles the last day of Oscar Grant’s life. Oscar Grant was a 22-year-old man who was killed by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle at the Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Station in Oakland, California on New Year’s Day 2009. The shooting was taped by many onlookers and the videos subsequently went viral on YouTube after the event.
Coogler begins the movie with the actual video of the shooting. The film then rewinds about a day before. Coogler chose to showcase the last day of Grant’s life. From the beginning the audience is enraptured by the events that would enfold. Oscar Grant, played by the impeccable Michael B. Jordan, is a flawed man. He is a man with a checkered past who is struggling to make a “fresh start” for his family. Oscar has a young daughter, Tatiana, with his girlfriend, Sophina (Melanie Diaz). Octavia Spencer plays his mother.
The film is not a social commentary of race relations in America. It is simply a film that shows the audience what happened that dreadful night. Coogler does not offer his opinion of Oscar’s death. He does not attempt to explore the political and sociological consequences of Oscar’s death. He allows the film to speak for itself.
Fruitvale Station is the best film I have seen this year in theaters. It is a heart-wrenching movie that provokes a somber and outraged state of mind. I say somber because as the credits began, I remained sitting in my seat. Words could not explain my reaction to the movie. My reaction to an event that had actually transpired. An event that had only occurred 4 years ago. I wondered how such a thing could happen in today’s society. How a man could be shot in the back, as he lay on his stomach with his hands handcuffed behind his back. I wondered and still wonder how this police officer could attempt to defend his actions by stating he thought he was using his Taser. How he was only sentenced to 2 years in prison. And how he was let out after 11 months!
How does this man who blatantly killed Oscar essentially get away with murder, while other citizens are imprisoned for a decade for petty crimes?
It makes one wonder about our court system.
Until I saw the movie trailer before watching a film several months ago, I had never heard of Oscar’s shooting. Fruitvale Station is a movie I have wanted to see ever since. It is a movie where one becomes lost in the story. It is a movie in which you don’t check your phone to see how much longer until the end. It is a movie that will make you think of life a little bit differently.
Most importantly, it is a movie that you should see.
Are you planning on watching this film?
If you’ve seen it, what do you think?
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate