FRUITVALE STATION [2013] movie review – recommended

December 22, 2013 · Print This Article

I am not good at becoming aware of emotional manipulation in movies.  I let the director tell the story and if she/he wants me to feel sad, happy, excited, I do not question it, just feel it, if they have the skill to make me feel anything.  I was not in the U.S. at the time of the real life events at Fruitvale Station, so I was unfamiliar with it.  FRUITVALE STATION [2013], the movie, was prefaced with a based on a true story tagline, but for me I had no idea what happened so I did not know the ending.  I should have known the ending could not be good, because if had all turned out well, then a movie probably would not have been made about the story.

The story takes place all on one day, December 31, 2008, with a few flashbacks that fill in character background about Oscar Grant.  Many, many things happen to him that day and I never even thought to question did all those things really happen to him on the day he happened to be killed on?  Only reading another review pointed that out to me.

Oscar we learn had been in prison, had presently lost his job, had cheated on his girlfriend whom he has a daughter with and was in possession of drugs he intended to sell.  It was also his mom’s birthday!  Oscar is portrayed as having a certain charm, so it is hard to imagine how he gets into so much trouble.  He had my sympathy when he pets a stray dog, giving the poor creature a few moments of friendship, but then that dog is hit by a reckless driver and killed.  Oscar yells & chases at the driver before picking up the poor dog and holding him in his last few minutes of life.  I would really like to know if that really happened.

Oscar wants to be forgiven and have a fresh start.  He confesses losing his job to his girlfriend before going to his mom’s birthday party.  They have plans to go out and celebrate New Year’s and all seems well, if just for the moment.

FRUITVALE STATION shows how small decisions can have life altering affects.  His mom did not want him driving into the city on New Year’s Eve so told him to take the train.  It was advice she would come to regret.

To me if the director (and writer), Ryan Coogler, used creative license with lots of the do-good scenes in the movie, thus altering what really happened on that day, to me it does not matter as the movie as a movie (it is not a documentary after all) still tells a powerful story, that is well acted and will leave the viewer emotional and thinking about small decisions, and large ones, long after the credits.

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