‘Fruitvale Station’ dynamic retelling of an american tale

Fruitvale Station blockbuster indie film


July 21, 2013


In the wake of the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman verdict, one has to wonder just how far we’ve come in the past few years since the “Fruitvale Station”incident.

“Fruitvale Station” could not have opened on a more appropriate weekend. The irony of a young black man having his directorial debut of a major release, heralded by an industry in which Blacks are a minority, during a weekend in which a verdict of like worth has come down to break the hearts of many Americans, is other worldly to say the least.

“Fruitvale Station” is a product of the Sundance Institute, founded by Robert Redford. A current socially relevant film, “Fruitvale Station” won the top awards at the Sundance Festival this year, and rightfully so. It is a well-written, powerfully-directed, and well-acted film. For those of you who may not know the story of what happened in Oakland January 1 2009, here is a synopsis.

It was New Years just after midnight. A young black male, Oscar Grant, and his family, were coming home from San Francisco at the tail end of the fireworks display. They had taken public transport, BART, to avoid driving in traffic. Upon their return, while disembarking the train, some of the young men on the train started a ruckus. The ruckus ended when the train stopped, but not before the station police got wind of it and decided to intervene. The police arrived and arrested certain black men who had been on the train. These men had not been causing the ruckus. The crowd yelled to the police that these men were not the guilty train riders. The men being put on the ground also shouted in protest that they were not the guilty parties.

The police continued to make them lie on their bellies, telling them to be quiet. The more the arrested men tried to explain, the shorter the policemens’ tempers grew until one officer stood and tased a ristrained, face- down young adult Black male. At least the officer thought he tased the young man. The officer in fact had drawn his gun out by mistake, shooting and wounding the young father, Oscar Grant, severely.

This film takes you through the day(s) leading up to that event. The key to Rayn Coogler’s direction is in his scene work, the actions that take place beyond the words of the script. We get to know intimately the family and the dynamics of their situation in our society.

The superb cast consist of, Oscar’s, the young victim (well played by Michael B. Jordan); Sophina, the girlfriend (the lovely Melonie Diaz); Tatiana, their daughter (beautiful and talented Ariana Neal); and Wanda, his mother ( masterfully played by Oscar winner, Octavia Spencer) Also well executed were the performances of the two police officers, Caruso (played menacingly by Kevin Durand) and Ingram (played ultimately sympathetic by Chad Michael Murray)

This film will break your heart. It makes us realize that racial profiling is still a major problem in our society, that we as a whole must find a solution to. It suggest that black people are made to feel as if they are being profiled everyday of their lives, and it suggest that we continue to practice being purposefully sensitive to this at all times.

This film, and films like it, should be mandatory viewing for any person who has the responsibility of judging or protecting the public, especially when they carry the authority to grant life or cause death to a fellow human being.

Fruitvale Station opens in theaters July 26, 2013

Director: Ryan Coogler
Writer: Ryan Coogler
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer

Reviewed By: Clent Bowers

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