This is the true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother, whose birthday falls on New Year's Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend, who he hasn't been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to T, their beautiful 4 year old daughter. He starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easy. He crosses paths with friends, family, and strangers, each exchange showing us that there is much more to Oscar than meets the eye. But it would be his final encounter of the day, with police officers at the Fruitvale BART station that would shake the Bay Area to its very core, and cause the entire nation to be witnesses to the story of Oscar Grant. Written by
The Weinstein Company
Fruitvale Station- A Solid Debut Feature Slightly Debilitated by an Idealized Narrative but Effective in Minimalist Technical Choices and Careful Pacing
Seldom do we remember in our desensitized 24-hour news society that behind every headline, every momentary tragedy, and every affected victim there's always a personable human story that reveals the true layers of heartbreak once exposed for all to grasp, understand, and mourn. One example in particular of modern headline tragedy was the senseless,unwarranted shooting of 22-year old Oscar Grant by police officers at the Fruitvale BART station that reinvigorated a debate on prejudice and a call for civil rights that unfortunately lead to some violent protests in the aftermath. This heated headline event is the subject of 26-year old filmmaker Ryan Coogler's debut feature entitled Fruitvale Station that is a relatively solid first film depicting the importance of family, the rarity of second chances, and the difficulty of responsibility leading up the inevitable heartbreaking event that is heavily dependent on performances rather than strong narrative substance. What's meant by the word solid is that this isn't an immaculate film without flaws and deserving of infinite praise because it contains a great deal of manipulative narrative tricks, an overly positive dramatization of its protagonist, and absolutely zero new insight on the societal issues involved or a genuine message to take away beyond its sad and rather plain recreation of actual events. Instead of delving deep into the obvious flaws of Oscar Grant, ranging from an ill temper, relationship cheating, and drug peddling, Coogler sets out to overly forgive these foibles making Grant a martyr instead of a palpable human being representing how no one deserves his tragic fate no matter their past, present, or potential future. However, Fruitvale Station does demonstrate that strong acting performances coupled with a careful execution of technical choices from a new energetic developing talent in Ryan Coogler can make an effective and emotional film. Most of the positives within the film are located in the light dramatic touch of the hand-held camera work, the intimate settings, and the strong acting, especially a star turning performance from Michael B. Jordan who carries the tragic weight of the film on his shoulders. Though Coogler's debut feature might possess an idealized portrayal of his film's subject Oscar Grant as well as some blanketed assumptions on justice there is a great deal of admirable qualities that makes it a dramatically riveting and socially tragic depiction of true events.
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