Film Review – Fruitvale Station (2013)


Title: Fruitvale Station (2013)

Director: Ryan Coogler (Feature Debut)

Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand

Plot: Based on the true story of Oscar Grant (Jordan) whose life ended horrifically on News Years eve 2008. The film follows Oscar on his last day and looks to give us a glimpse into the life of the man that will forever be known for meeting a tragic end.

“I’m good, I’m gonna be good”

Review by Eddie on 19/03/2014

Ryan Coogler’s stunning debut feature created, and deservedly so, a bidding war when it premiered at Sundance last year, and when purchased by the Weinstein company for the handsome $2 million dollar-plus sum created a rightfully so bigger splash upon cinematic release, with critics and audiences alike heralding it as a brave look at the life of Oscar Grant and the ushering in of new talent in the forms of Coogler and his headlining actors with both Michael B. Jordan and Melonie Diaz giving award worthy performances in a film that packs an almighty punch.

Many outside the United States may be unfamiliar with the story at the crux of Fruitvale Station, just as I was, but after this film is complete you will feel outraged and saddened by what occurred to a man aged only 22 and a man who as the movie examines was looking to make something of his life after a series of false starts. The emotional wallop that the film delivers is due solely to Coogler’s wise-beyond-his-years direction and handling of the film’s subject matter, and also due to the aforementioned world class turns from two seriously on form actors.

Michael B. Jordan and Melonie Diaz give career making turns, with special mention needing to be made in concerns to Jordan. Without such a believable and charismatic turn the material in the film would not have resonated so, but Jordan displays an art to at any time be wise, dumb, funny, charming or lost and on the basis of his turn he could be compared to a young Denzel Washington, which is no short order when talking about an actor that has become one of the all time most likeable and bankable stars due to his ability to remain charming and charismatic no matter the role. Director Coogler also delivers a stunning calling card with a film made in a mere 20 days displaying much beauty and finesse in a subject that could of been worryingly dire and dim.

Fruitvale Station, while somewhat slight in many elements, has a beating heart that even when looking perhaps too kindly on it’s key subject is always wholly compelling and affecting in it’s low key celebration of life and love. The movie acts as a reminder to us all at how short life can be and to not take any days for granted. Coogler and his cast should be commended for producing one of 2013’s most unlikely success stories and for making a movie that is compelling, must see viewing.

4 “brahs” out of 5

29 responses to “Film Review – Fruitvale Station (2013)

  1. Eddie, a great, in-depth review. I knew about this event when it happened, living over here in western USA. I have put off watching this because of the likelihood of an emotional bolo punch to my lower intestines. Perhaps I will brave up and give this film a shot. Once again, great review.

    • Very much worth it China, here in Australia the event was perhaps not as general public knowledge but there is no doubt a deep power in this story and also in the real life event.

  2. I thought this was such a compelling film, and the performances were so engaging. I’ve heard criticism about how the film was making “assumptions” about what happened to Oscar that day, but when films are made about real-life events, movie makers have to fill in some of the gaps. For the most part, it sounds like the film was accurate, and I think it was important and timely.

    • I thought so to Rebecca, it all felt quite natural and realistic and not once did I feel like I was being manipulated. I loved all the performances and hope Jordan can have a nice long stay in the industry as well as director Coogler.

      • I agree. It was such a fascinating and significant debut from a director. I couldn’t believe that it was only filmed in a few weeks. I read an interesting interview with Coogler and he said he wasn’t trying to give a message one way or the other about similar situations happening in America, but it was more of a “request” or a plea for everyone to become aware of what is happening. I thought it was a beautiful film. The whole cast was so talented.

  3. Good review Eddie. It’s a very sad film for most of the time, but ends on a positive note that seems to shed light on police injustice and how all of us, not just one family in particular, can put an end to it all. It just takes time, is all.

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    • Very true Colin I think in a year with less amazing competition he could of been a real chance. I believe it has set him up well in the industry however and hopefully he gets more quality roles like it.

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