In the wake of the Trayvon Martin saga, Fruitvale Station is a timely little film. Oscar Grant was a twenty-two year black male with a live-in girlfriend and a toddler girl. He was truly trying to get his act together. Yes, he did prison time. Yes, he lost his job due to being late. And yes, he sold drugs to keep money flowing. But, on New Year's Eve 2009, he vowed to make it a better year. The film covers a twenty-four hour period and with Michael B.Jordan's performance, we feel like we know Oscar and we really want him to succeed. He's been a kid, but realizes its time to be a man and take responsibility.
His strong family influence is obvious. His grandmother and mother (the brilliant Octavia Spencer with such soulful eyes) love him dearly, along with his siblings. He has a foundation. So after celebrating his mother's birthday, he and his girlfriend head to San Francisco to see fireworks and party a bit. His mom suggested he take the train to avoid driving and alcohol issues. He heeds her advice. He and friends have a good time, but the return trip home proves pivotal.
Crowded train, alcohol fueled crowd, sadly Oscar's past catches up to him. Words exchanged, a scuffle, and soon the train is stopped. Security arrives. Oscar and friends are handcuffed, trying to explain. Folks are using phones to film the action. Folks are shouting to release Oscar and friends who actually did not start the trouble. And sadly an officer's gun goes off, and a young man with the promise of a new year dies.
Well written, well acted - Fruitvale Station is a tale of hope, redemption, and loss. Can any lessons be learned? Perhaps someday.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.