• Joshua Buck

Fruitvale Station (2013) Review

The story of Oscar Grant III, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident, who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family, and strangers on the last day of 2008.

This sounds like a perfectly normal movie and pre-warning that this review is going into SPOILER territory very quick. This premise of a movie would sound so normal until you find out in the beginning seconds of the movie that this is a black man getting arrested by a police officer.

Relevant I know and that is why I have chosen to review this movie. Not because I am jumping on the hype train but because this story matters.

Oscar Grant, played by Michael B. Jordan a man who has wronged through his life and it resulted in prison and has decided to start afresh by being a better partner and son to his mother that he nearly broke, or at least that’s the opinion I got. So New Year’s Eve rolls around and he decides to go celebrate with his partner and friends and an ex-prison inmate recognises him on the train and starts to cause a stir. The police get involved and Oscar and his friends whilst trying to steer clear of being arrested get arrested and then the whole of the Bay Area is woken up by what a police officer does by people recording what has happened.

This film is a great debate of Oscar Grant's life of a character that openly did wrong and the film doesn’t hide that by showing that he served time in prison and had many flaws to his character that even results on his mother abandoning him in prison to make him realise where his problems lie. Oscar Grant clearly had aggression issues that he struggled to control and was a part of his character that he really struggled to shift. The film focuses this debate of his character and Oscar Grant trying to improve himself really well. He improves himself but the previous negative tendencies come out every now and then till eventually, he seems to shift it all and begin to make positive changes about his life. This character arc is really interesting and when it finally concludes it is really satisfying.

Direction from Ryan Coogler was excellent and he created a world that felt raw, precious and with hard edges like it could crumble at any moment and I think this is what he was trying to get at within respects of presenting Oscar Grant's life.

I thought this was a powerful movie and educated me on a story that I didn’t know about and it is clear to see why Ryan Coogler has gone on to have a great career.

Overall, I rate this movie a 3.5/5.

Now I realise that this review is well-timed with the Black Lives Matter movement since the death of George Floyd which sparked many protests but I want to take time to talk about movies and black cinema.

Equal representation in movies, I believe, has only just started to gain any traction and I believe Hollywood will eventually become a better place to represent minorities on the screen and it has recently seen it with successes with Jordan Peele with movies like Get Out and respectively Black Panther. This is not to say that Hollywood and the movie industry, in general, is doing a good job at representing black lives but it is taking steps, albeit small, in the right direction. Let’s hope that the future of movies is more representative of all lives, but for that to happen we have to level the playing field and represent more minorities. This is just my personal opinion. If you’re reading this it’s because we love movies and let that be an idea that unifies us despite differing opinions.

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