Spencer's Review of Fruitvale Station
While racially motivated police violence isn't anything new, "Fruitvale Station" is a feature to watch in our present political climate, in lieu of ongoing protests around the country. Directed by Ryan Coogler, who won Sundance's Grand Jury Prize in Drama, "Fruitvale Station" depicts the 24 hours before Oscar Grant's death at the hands of transit police, on New Year's Day 2009. The film features actual footage from the shooting, and the protest at the BART station one year later. Jordan stars as Grant, a man who is characterized as having a troubled, often tumultuous life. Recently out of prison, fired for being late to work, and dealing marijuana on the side, Grant has all the makings of a careless criminal. Inversely Grant is a considerate and sweet natured individual who takes care of his daughter and girlfriend, loves his mother, is friendly to strangers, and hopes for a better future. These two parallels show the realities of Grant's life and personality, neither demonizing him nor canonizing him for his behavior. The film simply tries to point out that Grant was not the perpetrator of any crime, that he was unfairly treated and killed, only because of his race. Grant makes for an interesting character, his kindness interlacing with his own personal demons throughout the narrative. This film serves well as an indignant example of the unfair conventions of police brutality, than as a biopic, yet still this entertains throughout as a film. The editing is amazing, the score is poignant in its placement, the performances from Jordan, Butler, and Diaz are realistic and thoughtfully achieved, and the direction from Coogler makes for an interesting watch. The only thing keeping this from being perfect is that it is pointed, and is trying more to educate than entertain, which explains the short runtime and lack of interiority from Grant. I highly recommend this film for those grappling with present events, or for those who just want to watch a well-made, politically motivated piece of filmmaking.