Fruitvale Station, directed by the great and powerful Ryan Coogler, is the tragic real life story of the final living day of the late Oscar Grant (Michael B Jordan), a 22 year old black man from Oakland who is trying hard to live a clean life and support his girlfriend (Melonie Diaz), and his young daughter. On the new year’s eve of 2008, he was swept up in an altercation with police that ended in tragedy.
This is a tragic, sympathetic and simple tale. Ryan Coogler eloquently takes us into the household of Oscar Grant through his diligent use of handheld camera shooting. There is nothing sophisticated in the manner in which this film was shot, and it was never supposed to be. The use of handheld camera shooting plays to this films strengths as it makes everything that is shown on screen more ground in reality. It makes it seem as though we have been the opportunity to “invade” another family’s household and watch as they attempt to better themselves and set new targets for the new year.
All this makes the movie’s climax that much more saddening. Fruitvale Station amalgamates real life footage of the incident with its own visualization of everything that happened leading up to the incident. These two elements complement each other well, and provide us with a complete picture of the tragedy. The chemistry between Michael B Jordan and Ryan Coogler must also be noted. In my view, they are one of the best director-actor partnerships today. Michael B Jordan’s performance was also believable and genuine; one of his best to date.
This review has been relatively short, and I don’t think I’ve done justice to praise this film’s brilliance. In fact, I may need to watch this movie again to appreciate more of its merits. I will say this though: Fruitvale Station made me contemplate about social issues far wider than its own scope. It is a movie that unfortunately went under the radar (likely due to its low-budget style shooting). But, it is a must-watch for all film-lovers.