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Fruitvale Station

Updated on August 16, 2013

Bart Police shooting in Oakland

Fruitvale Station

Director: Ryan Coogler

Writer: Ryan Coogler

Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray, Ahna O'Reilly, Ariana Neal, Keenan Coogler, Trestin George, Joey Oglesby, Michael James, Marjorie Shears, Destiny Ekwueme, Bianca Rodriguez III, Julian Keyes

Synopsis: The purportedly true 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.

MPAA Rating: Rated R for some violence, language throughout and some drug use

Best Movie of 2013 thus far

Sometimes movies can entertain us. Many can make us laugh. Others can make us cry. Some can even scare us. However, only a select few can have a powerful social commentary on society the same way "Fruitvale Station" does. Based on the true story of Oscar Grant III, who was a deeply flawed man.

He's been in and out of jail most of his life. He sold illegal drugs to get by in between jobs, and he even cheated on his wife once. However, he had a good heart in spite of his shortcomings, as the film shows that he did care deeply for his wife, his daughter and his entire family. Granted, Oscar did do a lot of bad things in his life, as he even admits that himself. However, as we watch the film, we soon learn that deep down he was a man that only yearned to be there for his family.

He doesn't mean to screw things up, but he made a lot of mistakes along the way. Sure, it would be easy to write off Oscar as a cheating drug selling juvenile, but he was also a loving father as well, who only sold drugs to help support his family. Does that mean I condone his actions of selling the drugs to begin with? Oh heavens no. However, I'd be lying if I said his character wasn't sympathetic.

Michael B. Jordan does a fantastic job in this part, as his captivating performance as Oscar is both captivating and memorable to watch. If the Academy Awards snub Michael for his performance in this film, then I'll be very surprised. His performance has Oscar written all over it. No pun intended.

As I mentioned earlier, the movie is based on the real life story of Oscar Grant, as the story chronicles the events of December 31, 2008; leading up to his tragic fate. Throughout his day, we meet his family and friends. We're even shown various flashbacks to depict his life leading up to this point; namely the one that shows him ending up in jail again for selling illegal drugs.

Throughout the film, we're shown that even though Oscar has done a lot of bad things in his life, we are also shown that he's done a lot of good things as well. How even sometimes a man with a checkered past can still have a pure heart. Granted, he was never a saint, but then again, who is these days? This is where the strength of the movie relies upon so heavily. Ryan Coogler does a great job orchestrating a powerfully written story about a deeply flawed man, who's very relatable in spite of his troubled choices in life.

To say that the screenplay for "Fruitvale Station" is great would be a drastic understatement. It's not just great. It's phenomenal, as I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this film gets a lot of Oscar love next year.

Unfortunately, the movie does touch upon a controversial subject matter that might offend some audiences. However, if you go into this film with an open mind, then you should enjoy it for the powerfully touching story that it is.

Throughout the story, Oscar feels something is different in the air. Something he can't describe, but he feels compelled to become a better son, a better father, a better husband, and an all around better person to make up for all past shortcomings. Unfortunately, change isn't something that can happen easily, as his past comes back to haunt him on New Year's Eve.

As Oscar and his wife are hanging out with their friends on the subway, a fight breaks out that wasn't his fault. The subway train stops at Fruitvale Bart Station, as the police are forced to get involved. Although I can't say what happens next without giving away too much, but the ending becomes arguably one of the strongest social commentaries about society that audiences will ever see on the big screen.

I should warn readers that "Fruitvale Station" isn't for the faint of heart, but if you're into dramatic stories that feature strong social commentaries on society, then look no further than this movie.

As for the editing and cinematography, I thought the film was very well paced. It never felt rushed, and the cinematography wasn't that bad either.

Overall, I would have to give "Fruitvale Station" a four out of four. It's a great movie if you haven't seen it already. My only advice to readers is to try to keep an open mind as you watch it unfold.

© 2013 Steven Escareno

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