Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Fruitvale Station (2013)

Director: Ryan Coogler
Writer:    Ryan Coogler
Cast:       Michael B. Jordan, Melonie Diaz, Octavia Spencer

The purportedly true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old bay area resident, who crosses path with friends, enemies, and strangers on the last day of 2008.

The role of Oscar is played by Michael B. Jordan who is familiar to me as Wallace from season one of 'The Wire'. Wallace was one of the tragic stories in it and the line from D'Angelo Barksdale line, 'Yo String, where's Wallace at?' one of the highlights of that season. This film also handles a story with black characters giving it a Wire like treatment, which actually means non-stereotypical and realistic treatment. The film opens with the actual footage from the original incident, preparing the audience for what is to come in case they didn't know about it. This also helps to handle the race subject at the center  of it in a subtle and non-explicit way. When the film got released, they referenced the Trayvon Martin incident for publicity. It would of course need no publicity if it was released now after the Michael Brown incident in Ferguson and the Eric Garner verdict. It is a very honest look at the race relations in America which is further complicated by class struggles.

The language used in the film is very authentic requiring the usage of subtitles. The whole 'Wassup Bruh?' lingo is getting used by dickheads in Kochi, Kerala and I don't know how the fuck it got here. Maybe it is them listening to too much hip-hop music. Overall 'Fruitvale Station' is a relevant film handling the subject with great restraint leaving the viewer to draw conclusions on their own. There is only one conclusion to draw after the recent incidents. Film was produced by Forest Whitaker and got screened at Sundance film festival. It was picked up by Weinstein film company for $2 million and was a box office success grossing close to $17 million. I would hazard a guess that it would have been even more successful had it got released now. I cannot compare the film to the typical Spike Lee films since I have only seen '25th Hour' and 'Inside Man' from his filmography. I suspect he preferred to handle it in an explicit manner. It is a very promising debut for the writer/director Ryan Coogler and hopefully a career making role for its lead.

Rating: 4/5