Fruitvale Station (2013)

Review of Fruitvale Station

New Year’s Day 2009, Oakland. After a small fight breaks out in a subway, Oscar Grant and his friends are detained on the platform of Fruitvale Station. Various people are using their phones to record what is happening. The situation is chaotic and the people involved are on edge. The group starts arguing with the police officers and when the police decides to cuff Oscar Grant they are not able to. A few moments later he is shot in the back by one of the police officers and dies as a result.

When the video of this tragic event appeared online it received a lot of media attention. By many it was seen as an example of extreme and unnecessary force used by the police. This movie is based on that event and tries to give the viewer an idea of what the last day in Oscar Grant’s life looked like.

Review of Fruitvale Station

Michael B. Jordan plays the role of Oscar Grant, a 22-year old man who is trying to make something of his life, but is having a hard time realising it. He has lost his job at the supermarket and he no longer wants to make an easy buck selling drugs as that is a lifestyle he no longer wants to live. He has a girlfriend, Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and a daughter called Tatiana (Ariana Neal). He wants to build a future together with them. Fruitvale Station paints him as someone who’s heart is in the right place. For his mother’s birthday he gets her more than she asks and he secretly gives his daughter some cookies despite her mother telling her she can’t have any.

Michael B. Jordan puts in a great performance, showing every aspect of the person Oscar Grant. You see both the caring father as the man who isn’t afraid to fight if necessary. As a viewer you start to care for Oscar Grant. It’s not only Jordan who impresses, Melonie Diaz also succeeds in injecting the movie with lots of believable emotion. The result is that at the end you can’t help but feel affected by what is taking place. One of the last scenes where her character is alone with her daughter is easily one of the most emotional moments in film I’ve seen this year and that’s reason alone to check this movie out.

Review of Fruitvale Station

The only I think I wondered after seeing the movie was what the message of this movie was. Of course the event was horrible, but it could have been a tragic accident (the police officer who fired the shot has stated that he thought he was going for his taser). The director has admitted that he added a few scenes which were not based on the facts (for those who have seen the movie, they are the ones with the dog and the weed near the water). Those scenes give the movie some extra emotional moments, but as this movie is based on real events it made me wonder if the movie wasn’t trying to paint a picture of the person which was not realistic and maybe too positive. Had this been a movie which wasn’t based on a real event I would have probably hadn’t had that issue. The fact I am wondering about it to me is a confirmation that they detract from the movie as a whole and that is a shame.

14 thoughts on “Fruitvale Station (2013)

  1. I think that the film was trying to paint a picture of shattered hope. Oscar was never painted as a hero. He had a temper, he was a cheater, he had a record…but he was still young enough TO CHANGE, and any good he would have done with his life was squashed by a tragic accident. I think that the film conveys that message really well.

    great write up!

    • Yeah, I agree you could see it in that. The feeling just kept creeping up while I was watching that a picture was being painted which felt a bit too positive. If it would be set over a couple of months I might have felt it more realistic then this showing everything happening in one day. It still is a good movie though 🙂

      Thanks Andrew!

  2. I love this movie, but I think the director went out of his way to make sure we understood what a race neutral life Oscar lived in order to increase the impact of white cop, shooting a defenseless black male. Whether that was as true as depicted, I’m not sure. But, thankfully, it didn’t take away from the emotional experience I had watching this movie.
    I am so behind on movie review and Sydney Quotes the Movies posts, but I will be getting to this one.

  3. I always have these problems with movies based on actual events. I usually spend a lot of time researching the history to see if I can figure out what is truth vs. fiction. From a viewer’s perspective, it’s safer to assume it’s all fiction until you can testify to the contrary. Because movies take so many liberties with truth and always have. You can watch 20 movies based on the same event and you’d be hard put to know they had anything to do with each other — e.g. the gunfight at OK Corral. Just saying.

    • Yeah, part of me also wants to compare it to the real facts and that sometimes takes away from the impact of the movie a little bit. The thing though with any document about historic events is that it is a personal interpretation by one or more persons. Just look at eye witnesses, they all tell a different story.

  4. I am Oscar Grant uncle, Oscar mother, Wanda Johnson, is my sister. Michael B. Jordan acting as Oscar was so on point. Michael B. Jordan internalized Oscar personality to such accuracy; we as a family, felted Oscar had came back to life. What Ryan Coogler did not give full details of was what really happened on the platform. Information the public did not get to know was Johannes Mehserle history of police brutality of Black young men. He had four altercations with young Black men to be exact. He was even reprimanded for one altercation. His first statement after the shooting by Tony Pironi was ” Tony, I thought he had a gun”. Johannes Mehserle continues to state this to several other Bart police officers. All can be read in the transcripts. Tony Pironi is the only witness of Johannes Mehserle that said Mehserle stated he was going to tased Oscar Grant. Tony Pironi is criminally charged by the Alameda District Attorney Office for defrauding the State Of California of unemployment benefits while hiding in the Military. The facts left out is what happened on the platform. If all knew the facts according to the transcripts and trial, there would be even more sadness about what happen to Oscar Grant on the Fruitvale Bart Station platform on January 1, 2009.

    • First of all my condolances. Interesting to hear your thoughts on the acting. Shame though that not all details were clearly brought forward through the movie. Thank you for clearing some details up.

  5. Can’t wait to see this movie. I just realized that the subject of racism has been brought up a lot in the media throughout the year, 12 Y a S, Fruitvale, The Butler, even American Horror Story. If only The Help was released this year.

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