Thursday, August 15, 2013

REVIEW: Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station

Michael B. Jordan,
Melonie Diaz


July 12, 2013 (NY/LA)
July 26, 2013 (WIDE)

Ryan Coogler

The Weinstein Company

1 hour 24 minutes



Death is tragic, regardless of the age.  However, one's death could be more tragic than the other depending on the situation.  Oscar Grant, played ferociously by Michael B. Jordan in the new film "Fruitvale Station," was shot in the back by a police officer in the early hours of New Year's Day in 2009 over a misunderstanding and sadly didn't survive.  Since then, there have been many rallies and foundations created to honor the memory of the 22 year old father/boyfriend/son.  Unlike most films based on tragic events, "Fruitvale Station" depicts the last 24 hours of Grant's life, letting the audience get to know him as a person before he meets his fatal demise.  The result is an 84 minute emotional and captivating film that features some of the best performances of 2013 thus far, as well as a stellar directorial debut from Ryan Coogler.

Michael B. Jordan's performance is something of a revelation here.  Throughout this movie, the audience gets to know this character who, like the two main leads in "Romeo & Juliet," unknowingly is about to meet his demise.  Aside from two heartbreakingly desperate moments on his part, Jordan's portrayal of Oscar makes him come off as a really likable character.  Oscar is a loving husband, devoted father, and someone who is just trying to do right for his family.  So when the big climax comes to a start when Oscar and his friends hop on the BART, you kind of have this feeling inside hoping that Oscar's gonna make it, despite knowing that he isn't.  Nevertheless, Michael B. Jordan is incredible in this movie and definitely deserves all of the praise he's been getting.

Melonie Diaz plays Oscar's loyal yet frustrated girlfriend/mother of his daughter, Sophina, and her performance is also great in the film.  Diaz's portrayal of Sophina is a complex one, because her character is difficult to enjoy because of how restricting and cold she can be to Oscar.  However, there are also several moments with her where she just simply breaks down and metaphorically shows that even the strongest of walls can easily come tumbling down.  Octavia Spencer does a great job as well as Oscar's mother.  There's a scene in the movie where Octavia's character Wanda has to let her son go despite loving him so.  Of all of the film's characters, she's probably the strongest of them all, despite breaking down at the end to the news of Oscar's death.  Jordan, Diaz, and Spencer give amazing performances, and definitely will be remembered by the year's end.

I give strong props to Ryan Coogler for bringing this sad and moving story to the big screen.  This is a movie that deserves to be seen and should be considered a wake-up call for the world.  Sure, there are shootings every day, with one of the more notable ones recently being of Trayvon Martin, but rarely are we ever able to get to know these victims on a personal level and weep when they meet their demise.  Michael B. Jordan is stellar in this movie, as are Melonie Diaz and Octavia Spencer.  Coogler's script and direction tell this story with the eye of a professional filmmaker and lets us in to Grant's tragic yet beautiful life.  It's awful how this man lost his life and left behind a girlfriend and a daughter, and the ending to this movie sums that up with perfection.  "Fruitvale Station" is possibly the most powerful and effective of 2013 thus far, and is a must-see for moviegoers everywhere.


August: Osage County

12 Years A Slave

Captain Phillips

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

Black Nativity

Lee Daniels' The Butler

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