Finally got to see Fruitvale Station tonight. Taking one last deep breath before I start this one.
The film is based on the real life story of Oscar Grant, who a few years back was killed at the BART station in San Francisco this film is named after. As directed by Ryan Coogler, we follow Oscar (as played by Michael B. Jordan) on his last day. The beauty of how the story is told, is that, starting with the real life cell phone footage of Oscar’s murder, we as the audience know this is Oscar’s last day. So (like all of us) you see the different roles and contradictions within him as he interacts with his girlfriend, his daughter, his mother, random people he meets. When the cops show up at the train station for what should be a fairly routine ‘everybody settle down’ call, the chills go down your spine. Again I credit Coogler here, but even the murder itself doesn’t come across as overtly malicious. But the bottom line is he’s dead. As Biggie famously said, ‘Death, there ain’t no coming back from that.’ Octavia Spencer plays Oscar’s mother in the film, and she may be a bigger lock for an Oscar nomination than anyone else in the film. The tears were flowing in the screening I was in, and I know it was far from the first time.
Michael B. Jordan came out for a quick Q&A after the screening and talked about the making of the film and his own (still very young) career progress. He’ll always be Wallace to me so it was nice to hear him talk a little about taking acting as a serious craft while on the Wire, and he talked about his own ‘7-11 diet’ (whcih I might have to steal) before you hit that turning point where ‘overnight’ you’re pegged as the next Guy. He came across as very genuine and grateful for the whole process, which did nothing to diminish my hope the kid gets to build whatever type of long term career he wants to have.
One way or another, I’m sure we’ll be talking about this film again early next year, so I’ll go in deeper again at that point.