Monday, July 15, 2013

The Tragedy of Fruitvale Station

As a film about the controversial shooting death of Oscar Grant (played by Michael B. Jordan) at the Fruitvale BART station on New Year's Day, 2009, and as a vivid portrait of a 22-year-old African American ex-con struggling to get a job so that he can marry his girlfriend (wonderfully portrayed by Melanie Diaz) and care for his daughter, Tatiana (touchingly performed by Ariana Neal), Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station is piercing in its presentation of a family living amidst the mean streets of Hayward and devastating in its presentation of the tragic event. Central to the film is the relationship between Oscar and his daughter - and the tragedy here is that he wants so much to be her responsible father and makes moves to turn over a new leaf, only to be killed when he's out having fun with his girlfriend and their friends. With excellent performances across the board, and a very earnest performance by Octavia Spencer as Oscar's mother, this film is easily one of the best films of the year for its taut direction, its honest writing, and the very memorable performance of Jordan as Oscar, a young man whose good intentions and his joyful love for his daughter are brought to a sudden end by a single accidental bullet.

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