Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station tells the true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old, who up to this point hasnt exactly been a model citizen. Being New Years Eve, Oscar is intent on becoming a better man by being a better partner to his girlfriend, a better father to his daughter, and a better son to his mother. Making the change isn't easy for Oscar but he is off to a good start, until tragedy strikes on a BART station subway in the early hours of New Years Day. Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station is a film that is bound to depress and enrage everyone who watches it. Much like last year's Compliance, this film presents a story of unbelievable tragedy that you almost wouldn't believe if it was fiction. Fruitvale Station shares a lof ot the same problems as Compliance, being a film that is celebrated more for the story then the storytelling. Fruitvale Station is a better directed film though, with Coogler showing an impressive amount of restraint for a first time filmmaker. He surely wants the film to serve as a weapon against racially charged police brutality but he never lets the film become angry or biased. Coogler understand that regardless of race, this is a human tragedy and in doing so the film is much more resonant. The film doesn't try and paint Oscar out as some saint, far from it, but it's clear that he is a man who is trying to correct his life. One of my favorite scenes of the film takes place at the grocery store, where Oscar is trying to get his job back. We see Oscar's instability and aggression come out as he demands to get his job back, an important sequence because up until that point we really hadn't seen anything negative or scary about Oscar as a man. Fruitvale Station is a film that should absolutely be seen but that doesn't mean it's without fault. Obviously without knowing all the facts it's hard to be too critical but the film does come off a little too emotionally manipulative at times. Coogler uses every trick in the book to make the audience relate too and feel for Oscar, but the sequence with the dog for example, felt way too hamfisted for my taste. Michael B Jordan has been one of my favorite young actors for awhile now and his performance in Fruitvale Station further confirms his talent. Jordan completely becomes Oscar Grant and along with a great performance by Octavia Spencer, her best ever, the film is full of strong acting. Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station really doesn't have much to say but it doesn't have an agenda either, instead it simply presents a truly unbelievable portrait of tragedy.
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