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Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station poster.jpgFruitvale Station mirrors another one of the years best films in a number of ways, Out of the Furnace.  Both films follow men that are good at heart.  They’re troubled and live troubled lives, but they try their hardest to do what is best for themselves and their families.  Their paths unfortunately seem to be pre-determined, and the outcome is tremendously heartbreaking for both of them.

Fruitvale Station is the true story of Oscar Grant III, played masterfully by Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights, Chronical).  Oscar is just a young kid who has seen his fair share of trouble, spending some time at San Quentin.  He’s been released for a few months and tries to do the best for his girlfriend Sophina, and daughter Tatiana.  He just can’t seem to get things right though.  He’s lost his job at a local supermarket, but refuses to go back to slinging drugs to get by.  He wants his daughter to grow up in a safe and healthy environment, and he knows drugs are not the right path.

The film follows Oscar on New Years Eve as we get to know his daughter, mother (Octavia Spencer), wife, and surrounding family.  He has a close-knit family network that is full of love and support.  We get to see the man Oscar is capable of becoming, and we root for him to better his life.  Oscar, his wife, and friends decide to take the train into the city to celebrate New Years Eve.  It’s a simple decision that will drastically change their lives.

Michael B. Jordan is a true talent, and I love seeing him shine in this picture.  I hope a lot of other filmmakers are taking notice, and will be employing his services in future films to come.  Without his work here the film would fall flat, fact.  It’s the #1 reason why the film works and is so powerful.  I wasn’t really away of the true life events that took place before seeing the film, and I’m not really sure if that aided in my “enjoyment”, or more likely respect for the talent at play, to bring this sad circumstance to life.

Fruitvale Station is simple at its core, and first time filmmaker Ryan Coogler places us directly in Oscar’s life with an almost documentary style way of filmmaking.  The films complete lack of a musical score also brings us closer to understanding Oscar’s world.  People will be taking notice of Coogler in the near future, if they haven’t done so already.

Grade: A