Fruitvale Station Reviews
Well, what is meant by that?
What is riveted to whom?
Michael B. Jordan had me riveted to his roller coaster ride of emotional intensity. The rivets were the fasteners with which he had me connected to every nuance of Oscar's deep empathy for the suffering of others, all the raw scary edges, his threateningly murderous rageful anger when feeling cheated and abused, and his extreme charm and charisma when really "on" and getting over in a hard world, and being normal, himself, with family and friends. Seductive in the most wholesome version of the ability to really connect in a moment, to us and the other characters. Some really wonderful scenes with other actors, like in jail talking to Octavia Spencer as Mom. A very powerful scene. Oscar is all over the map in blinks of the eye.
This was a masterful performance.
The movie is a very fine and lucid character study of Oscar Grant.
Michael B. Jordan makes him a very complex but ultimately lovable sweet young man. This is the foundation of a very effective tragedy. Plus I had expected the structure of be the classic circular bookends. It could have easily ended with the within reenactment of what we see in the opening phone video and been a masterpiece, an artful, and a socially righteous drama.
But it did not end in the scene at the station. We ride out the dark ripples at the tragedy as they repeatedly roll over, mom (Octavia Spencer), mate (Melonie Diaz), her daugher, and everyone. And with them we feel these tragic waves hit us watching, again and again.
This is a great movie.
It tells a great story, and the movie deserves to be seen just for that. However, I can't help but feel the movie could've been a lot more than it was, and Coogler's shaky realism style of directing isn't for me.
In a true story, Oscar Grant wakes on New Years Eve to what seems to be a typical holiday. While juggling many life problems, Oscar strives to leave his past life and make himself a better man. On an innocent night down in the city, his life will turn for the worse when he's detained at Fruitvale Station. What happens next will change his life and everyone's around him forever.
I applaud Ryan Coogler. In his directorial debut, he managed to not only give us a simple, yet powerful film, but he also manages to pull a couple tears from your eyes. To this date, he's directed only two films, and both have been phenomenal. This, along with "Creed", have been some of the top films of their respective years, and he really shows us why this was the best film at the Sundance Film Festival.
What I really loved about this movie was the writing. It was a very respectful, yet non biased portrayal of Oscar's last living breath. Coogler knows how to write natural dialogue and he also manages to give us amazing character depth. In a mere hour and 20 minutes, he can basically tell us everything we need to know about our main characters and why we should care about them. The thing that's most important is the fact that he didn't necessarily glorify Oscar and his life, but rather, shows how he was an imperfect man struggling to get back up on his feet.
Oscar Grant was far from perfect and that's shown through multiple, yet small events. Whether it's his previous drug life, the jail time, anger management, or the unemployment, that was all shown in this movie. They didn't sugar coat it and I loved that. However, Coogler gave us the other side of Oscar, the side that showed him striving to become a better man. Yes, he made plenty of mistakes throughout his life, but he tried his hardest to create a new start for himself. He did everything he could do to become a better family man, a better father, a better son, and a righteous man. It's a tragic story to see his life taken away from him in a blink of an eye, especially to something so meaningless. Coogler does an amazing job of making these imperfect, yet relatable characters that you can root for the entire way through. I say this all with 100% respect toward Oscar Grant and I even admire him.
The acting in this movie is definitely something to behold. Michael B. Jordan is one of today's best up and coming actors, and considering this is one of his early performances, he gave one of his best here. Again, not only is the writing a respectable portrayal, but the acting brings out the personality of each and every character. When I was watching this movie, I didn't feel like I was watching Michael B. Jordan playing some character, but rather, I felt like I was watching Oscar Grant live out his life. That's due to an amazing performance from Jordan, as a lot of Grant's little ticks, habits, and slang were picked up on in this film. Everyone else did a pretty great job too, and the overall talent here is admirable.
This movie is so admirable because it's just so simple. Nothing here is overdone and there are so many small things that really make this movie what it is. Whether Oscar secretly hands his daughter a pair of fruit snacks, the kind act of a shop owner, or watching one Caucasian police officer hold the hand of Oscar as he bleeds out, it all adds up in the end. I praise this movie and what it has done, and I recommend it to anyone age appropriate with a Netflix account.
In the end, this was a fantastic film. It was well directed and well acted, and a respectable portrayal of the tragedy at Fruitvale Station.
This movie is effective portrait of the negative of Grant and the positive. The movie is intense and will sap you of your energy. Watch it with somebody you love and hug them afterwards.