Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fruitvale Station Review - 4 Stars

On New Years Day 2009, 22 year old Oakland, California resident Oscar Grant got into a scuffle on the BART train.  Transit police pulled him and several others off the train at Fruitvale Station.  During the arrest an office fired a gun.  Grant was shot in the back and died the next day.   Several people taped the actual event with their cell phones.  Those recordings put an Oakland transit policeman on trial and ultimately in prison, although for a short term.  “Fruitvale Station” relives the last day of Oscar Grant’s life.  The up-and-coming actor Michael B. Jordan plays Grant in all his humanity — as neither saint nor sinner.  We see his flare ups, his relationship problems, learn of his prison term for gun possession, and discover his sideline as a sometime drug dealer.   But we also see a dedicated father, a good son, a friendly helper, and a young adult trying to overcome the mistakes of his past.   “Fruitvale Station” captures a realistic portrait of a young Black man’s life. The excellent cast includes Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer.  The recent Trayvon Martin case in Florida reopens a national conversation about profiling and stereotyping.  “Fruitvale Station” advances that conversation.  Does it deliver what it promises?  Stirring drama. Is it entertaining?  Powerful and moving.  Is it worth the price of admission?  One of the year’s best.