Fruitvale Station Reviews
Rating: 7.9 (B+)
Fruitvale Station is simply a truly brilliant film for very many reasons, and the kind of film which is likely to hold up for generations after its release for a number of reasons. One of these is the fact that the subject matter in Fruitvale Station is material which will never stop being relevant. With police brutality against the African-American crowd dating further back than the Rodney King beating and beyond the shooting of Michael Brown, the story of Oscar Grant III's death touches upon issues which all viewers need to confront. With Ryan Coogler behind the camera, Fruitvale Station stands out as being impressive for its lack of bias. Everything about the film is made to feel natural, and as a result there is no feeling that the feature is one-sided whatsoever.
Ryan Coogler ensures that with Fruitvale Station, viewers follow protagonist Oscar Grant III so closely that they miss nothing about him. Everything he does, everyone he talks to, even every minor change in his facial expressions, Oscar hides nothing from audiences. This really challenges Michael B. Jordan in the part, but it also means that we see everything about the character for better and for worse. Oscar Grant III ends his interactions with both his girlfriend Sophia Mesa and his mother Wanda Johnson by reminding them that he loves them. The way that Michael B. Jordon expresses his affection for those he loves is so genuine that it is almost vulnerable, giving a touching side to the character. This is contrasted in other scenes which show the man expressing an aggressive temperament. We see his short temper and how it gets him into bad situations such as his stint in prison. Oscar Grant III is not incapable of flaws, nor is he a perfectly law abiding citizen. As a result, viewers are left to choose their own side of the story based simply on what happened and not on what filmmakers want you to believe. As a result, the realism is so respectable that it pays a lot of credibility to Ryan Coogler as a filmmaker and viewers are more than likely to sympathise with the protagonist anyway simply because of how the film delves beneath the surface and focuses on characterizing him as a human being simply trying to exist in a world that he doesn't always see eye to eye with. Distant from Hollywood, Fruitvale Station is a beautiful product of independent filmmaker which is intelligent and organically dramatic, if a little bit slow.
Fruitvale Station is really quite the experience. With a low-budget and a director clearly passionate about the material, it comes off as both strong in narrative and visually grand. The scenery is all on-location and effectively gives viewers a feeling of a run-down California, grasping a feeling of
The cinematography captures this with a visual quality which is slightly rough and occasionally blurry, as well as a little shaky. Though this is frequently a major fault in Hollywood productions, in this low-budget creation it is one of its most artistic merits. Fruitvale Station's shakiness is never too excessive for viewers to actually see what is happening, neither is its quick pans. Instead, it helps provide audiences with a more first-hand perspective of what is happening by supporting the notion that it is something they are witnessing for themselves in person. The resolution in Fruitvale Station is not a picture-perfect glossy image that viewers will find in every contemporary Hollywood film, reminding us that this is no monetary-oriented mainstream piece. It is bent on realism and doing the best it can with such a low budget. What it accomplishes is a reminder of how true storytelling in cinema does not come from the wallet but from the heart, and Ryan Coogler's artistic merits are a massive source of credit to this.
And working with the man's brilliant screenplay, Michael B. Jordan delivers a breakthrough performance. Being an actor who continues to rack up acclaim in many roles, Michael B. Jordan delivers some of his finest work in his portrayal of Oscar Grant III. Like I said, the film focuses so heavily on him that it captures every little detail of his performance. Michael B. Jordan is so deeply engaged with the role that he brings Oscar Grant III to life once again, making the film a perfectly befitting tribute to the man. He is a flawed human being, but it is clear that he has the best of intentions and a desire to look out for everyone around him as best as he can. Michael B. Jordan captures the organic charms of the man and his rough nature, finding a way to naturally oscillate between the two states of mind. Michael B. Jordan is brilliant because he never loses sight of the character for a minute and remains a consistently engaging and sympathetic presence throughout all the material, effectively ensuring that the way the film revolves around him is no challenge too great for the charismatic skills of this rising star.
Octavia Spencer is also brilliant. Capturing a strong balance between the maternal nature of a mother and a woman conflicted on what is truly the best thing for everyone, Octavia Spencer is able to powerfully bring drama out of any situation she faces. This is predominantly achieved through a powerful chemistry with Michael B. Jordan but also from a genuinely tenacious grip over the character Wanda Johnson. Her brief period of screen time sets no limits on the actress proving the true extent of her talents because she spawns rich tension out of any situation she deems necessary. Octavia Spencer boosts the credibility of Fruitvale Station even higher by being the film's greatest supporting cast member.
Melonie Diaz also has some powerful moments.
So thanks to Ryan Coogler's tenacious directorial skills and Michael B. Jordan's incredible dramatic talents, Fruitvale Station is an intelligent recreation of Oscar Grant III's death which is rich in emotional drama and style without typical Hollywood bias.