I’m not sure if there will be a tougher watch at the movies this year than Frutivale Station. Let me take a moment to warn the readers out there. If you are unaware of the story of Oscar Grant and want to stay that way until you see Fruitvale Station, stop reading now. This review will contain spoilers for the uninformed since it will be impossible to review and explain the movie without discussing some key plot points. You’ve been warned.
Fruitvale Station is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Bay Area native who was shot by a BART police officer early New Year’s Day 2009. Grant later died from his wounds and became the face of Police brutality in the Bay Area. Fruitvale Station covers the last hours of his life. Oscar wakes up New Year’s Eve and decides this will be the day he turns things around. Fruitvale Station covers all the simple things Oscar does on his last day that seem so simple, but come across so precious and heartbreaking considering Oscar’s fate. You want Oscar to succeed and be a good father, son, and partner. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do as an audience member to stop the walls from closing in on Oscar’s life.
The breakout star of Fruitvale Station is Michael B. Jordan. Jordan has earned critical praise in the past with his work on Friday Night Lights and most recently Chronicle. Fruitvale Station is a different dramatic beast compared to those previous roles. Jordan carries the enormous weight of Fruitvale Station on his back with his tragic portrayal of Oscar. Jordan is on-screen probably 95% of Fruitvale Station and holds his own with the likes of Oscar winner Octavia Spencer who plays Grant’s mother. Jordan makes us want to root for Oscar, even if he is far from perfect. Michael B. Jordan could wind up being a dark horse candidate for a best actor nomination at the end of the year.
Now here comes of the tough part of the review. Fruitvale Station is a well made and acted movie, but you feel awful when you leave the theater. It’s a heartbreaking story that shows you how precious every moment in life really is. I will never say that I loved Fruitvale Station. I don’t think you should. It’s like walking out of Schindler’s List and saying it was awesome. I respect Fruitvale Station and think it’s an important film, but it’s the most depressing experience I’ve had at the movies all year. That includes Grown Ups 2. Sorry, I had to lighten the mood. Overall, I give Fruitvale Station 3 out of 4 potatoes.
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