As I sat in the theatre watching the new film Fruitvale Station, it was immediately clear that this is a “MUST SEE” movie for all races. It is based on the true story of 22-year-old, Oscar Grant, who was shot in the subway back in 2009 by police officer, Johannes Mehserle, and later died. It was extremely well-acted, but what made it compelling, is that the director took it one step further.
In a tragic and unfortunate turn of events, Oscar went from enjoying fireworks with his girlfriend and close friends on New Year’s Eve, to being shot in the back after riding the Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Station in Oakland, California. The chilling scene of the horrific incident left the audience in complete silence and tugged at your heartstrings…it was definitely a tissue moment.
The timing of this movie is impeccable, since the Trayvon Martin verdict is still on the minds of millions. Fruitvale Station goes deeper than telling a story of a young black innocent man shot for absolutely no just cause. In an impressive twist, it actually humanized him and showed his depth, leaving out the flashy hype scenes. Many are so quick to forget that every young black male has a mother, a father, a girlfriend or children. They are the same as any other race and have feelings and loved ones too. It is so often that a crowd of black men are looked at as inhuman and without sensitivity. But this film takes you there…it was a deep look into Oscar Grant’s life without the “hoodie”. He is loving, respectful, decent, and yes flawed…but who isn’t?
Another thing became very apparent when sitting in the half empty suburban movie theatre….this film is required viewing for people around the nation. For every white person who has ever held their purse tight as they walked past a black male…it is required viewing. For every suburbanite who has crossed the street when a crowd of black teens walked toward them….it is required viewing. For every young black teen who is considering joining a gang or getting involved in drugs…it is required viewing. For every parent who is at a loss of words for what to tell their young black teen on how to react to police…it is required viewing. For every person who has rarely interacted with black males….it is required viewing. For every black gang banger who kills another black male….it is required viewing. For every high school student in the suburbs and urban neighborhoods…it is required viewing.
In his first feature film debut, 27-year-old Ryan Coolgler nailed it as Director and Writer of this award-winning film. During the 2013 Sundance Film Festival the film was honored with the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize. Coolgler clearly should also get an Oscar Award nomination for this incredible masterpiece.
What really made this movie work was the strong cast, including newcomer and lead actor; Michael B. Jordan. His acting was so realistic, it was as though he literally channeled Oscar throughout the movie. His girlfriend played by Melonie Diaz, was also outstanding. She was raw and gave an emotional performance. And as always, Octavia Spencer played his mom to perfection. The young actress, Ariana Neal, also held her own, playing the loving daughter (Tatiana). Any one of them could receive an Oscar nomination…and each absolutely earned a spot on the list or even a win.
Some may ask why I say to view this film to honor the memory of Trayvon Martin. Well, it’s because Oscar and Trayvon are a lot a like. They both had family members who loved them, they both lived a “normal life“, but most importantly, they both were judged for the color of their skin and lost their lives unnecessarily. Use their stories to open your mind and heart the next time you encounter a person of a different race…you may just be pleasantly surprised.
In the end, the cop who shot the young victim received only 2 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. Although Mehserle claims he mistakenly shot him thinking it was a Taser, he lost his job, but only spent 11 months of his sentence behind bars.
And yes…there were riots, but it has not seemed to end the racial tension in America. Let’s be honest…much more work is still to be done. Racism is alive and well….just hidden behind terms like “Politically Correct“. It was easier when the bathrooms had signs…at least we knew where we stood.
Some have viewers have commented this film was low budget and made for Lifetime Movie Network. Well, don’t let that stop you…the message is worth the ticket price.
ACTUAL RAW VIDEO FOOTAGE…WARNING EXTREMELY DISTURBING. Thank goodness for video’s…can you imagine what would have happened without this footage?