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.
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.
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.