This week I watched Fruitvale Station, a moving film based on a true story, about Oscar Grant III’s interactions on January 31st, 2008.
Check out the trailer here:
I came across this film as it was included (along with Short Term 12, which I loved) on a list of films that were wrongfully shut out of the Oscar race. Both are important stories that resonates on multiple levels and highlight relevant social issues. While it didn’t affect me as much as Short Term 12, I loved the pace, rhythm, and moments that Fruitvale Station captures and how true to life the film feels from beginning to end.
Oscar is portrayed by Michael B. Jordan, a young man who seems to have finally made the leap to film. He brings subtle complexity to the role and makes it hard not to fall in love with Oscar. Melonie Diaz, who you’ll recognize but won’t know why (Girls), plays Oscar’s girlfriend and the mother of his child, Sophina. Her portrayal is natural and adds to the realism of the film. Oscar’s mother is played by the powerful Octavia Spencer, who’s calm sense of conviction when delivering a line is enough to shake even the most disinterested audience member.
The film begins at the end, so that audiences know what’s coming. For me, this was not the most effective structure, since it changed the light in which character development, relationships, and lines were interpreted. However, I was surprised by how emotional the ending was, even with the expectation and knowledge we were provided at the beginning. Without the build up, adrenaline, or shock-value that most films rely on, Fruitvale Station packs a punch with the sheer humanness of its telling.