Fruitvale Station is an astounding, award winning fictionalized account of Oscar Grant’s last 24 hours, a young black man killed by a white police officer in Oakland, California, in the early hours of New Year’s Day, 2009.
Oscar (Michael B Jordan) is an ordinary man who goes about his day trying to make a change in his life. We learn quickly that he is no saint as he is often in and out of prison and has been unfaithful to his baby mama and long-term girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz). Yet, when he wakes up on New Years Eve, he is determined to turn things around.
He spends the day running errands, takes his little girl to school, tries to get his job back and, despite his financial struggles, he even turns down a potentially lucrative drug deal. We fall in love with him because Michael B Jordan’s character portrayal is impeccable and tremendously realistic; we know he is a flawed human being but he is trying his best to be a better son, a loyal dad and a loving partner.
We sit on the edge of our seats because we know what is going to happen, we’ve seen it right at the beginning. The brutality and the injustice of the incident is a gut churning experience, the portrayal in the film is just as devastating. Fruitvale Station is a must see, an enraging, modern tragedy that has shaken the US to its core.
Writer and director Ryan Coogler chose to skirt away from the political side of the events that unfolded, the riots and the media attention of this case, because “during the trial, I saw how the situation became politicized: depending on which side of the political fence people stood on, Oscar was either cast as a saint who had never done anything wrong in his life, or he was painted as a monster who got what he deserved that night”. Coogler adds “I felt that, in that process, Oscar’s humanity was lost. I wanted audiences to know that he was a real person. He was a person with real struggles and personal conflicts, but also with real hopes, and real dreams, and goals”.
Coogler decided against a documentary style because he wanted to tell this story “sooner, rather than later, because events like this keep happening”. He was driven to make this film because “I wanted to do something to make a difference, and I thought that if I could bring the story to life through art, and give audiences the chance to spend time with a character like Oscar, it could maybe lower the chances of an incident like this happening again”.
Fruitvale Station will be in UK cinemas 6 June.
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