Review: Fruitvale Station (2013)

Fruitvale StationFruitvale Station is a solid film. Clocking in at only 85 minutes, it packs more of a punch than some of the 2 1/2 hour films that have come before it this summer. It’s a true story account of the last day of Oscar Grant’s life, the young man who was shot by a police officer in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2009 at the Fruitvale train station in Oakland, California. Michael B. Jordan plays Grant and gives a knockout performance.

The film is written and directed by newcomer Ryan Coogler, who is only 27, and if this film is any indication, he’ll be a talent to keep an eye on.

He and Jordan portray Grant as a very real person. He has flaws, he’s struggling but he’s trying to correct his past mistakes and make a better life for himself, his girlfriend and his young daughter. Even though he is flawed, he is portrayed as a very upstanding guy, almost a little too much. In my opinion, there’s maybe one too many scenes of him doing something to show us how good of a person he was. There’s a certain scene in particular that also acts as perhaps a foreshadowing of things to come that I didn’t buy. However, it must be said that I’ve heard this film is an accurate portrayal of everything he did on that New Year’s Eve day. The filmmakers interviewed his friends and family and tried to essentially recreate his last day. If that’s true and the scene in question actually happened, then I take back what I said. However, he’s the only person present in this particular scene so I have a feeling it was added in for dramatic effect.

Octavia Spencer gives a great performance as well as Grant’s mother, who loves her son and supports him. He definitely loves her too and she’s one of the many reasons he’s trying to better himself. Kevin Durand plays one of the police officers in the climax of the film at the Fruitvale train station and he’s always good.

It’s a heavy film but it’s very well made with some outstanding performances. It’s definitely one of the best films of the year.

I give it an A-.

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