Fruitvale Station Review: Fantastically Constructed Emotional Suckerpunch
Wow, what a film. For a recent USC graduate’s first effort with a $900,000 budget, Ryan Coogler makes a mark with the touching celebration of the life of Oscar Grant.
Fruitvale Station retells the last 24 hours of Oscar Grant’s life before he was unfairly shot and killed by a police officer on New Years Day in 2009. With many truths and a handful of creative license, we see Oscar’s last day play out as he tries to straighten up his life and become a better father to his daughter and girlfriend.
Michael B. Jordan plays Oscar with ease. I think that’s all I need to say. He’s great. I’d only seen him before in Chronicle last year, and didn’t think too much of him due to the type of film that was (that being said, I did thoroughly enjoy Chronicle, and sparked my interest in Dane Dehaan, who is also now on Hollywood’s radar), but his performance has solidified him as another potential to keep an eye on. The film also stars Octavia Spencer as Oscar’s mother, and she’s fantastic as well.
What I enjoyed most about the film was the scene in the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit for those unfamiliar with San Francisco). The beginning of the film shows the footage of the actual event recorded on a phone, and when the film reaches the scene, it feels so true. You know that a film is good when you feel so tense leading up to an event that you already know what happens. The police officer played by Kevin Durand is brutal and makes the scene as tense as it is.
The one gripe I had with the film was that some of the creative licenses were a bit unbelievable but when you look at what the film is trying to achieve, then you can forgive it.
I did some research into what was truth and what wasn’t, and what didn’t happen on that day in reality happened to him in his recent history or is something that Coogler believed he would have done. One scene involving a stray dog never happened to Grant, but rather to Coogler’s brother, and drew inspiration from there. There is truth to this entire film in some form.
I don’t know when this will be on general release in Australia, but when it is, go and watch it. It’s hard hitting, but worth the 84 minutes of your time to be given an insight into this man’s life.