In Oakland, California, in the early hours of 2009, 22-year-old Oscar Grant was on his way home from celebrating the turn of the New Year when he was shot dead in a BART station by a local policeman.
For his film Fruitvale Station, director Ryan Coogler took a look at the 24 hours preceding the crime: the final day of Oscar Grant’s life. He shows a young man trying to make the best of it, depicting Grant as a great father, a not-so-great boyfriend and a decent son who struggles with bosses, ponders marriage and comforts a dying dog during his last day on Earth.
There’s a lingering sense that Coogler is portraying Grant as almost too much of a ‘good guy’, but the scriptwriters can be forgiven for delving into sentimentality. The director is attempting to ram home the tremendous, unnecessary loss inherent in this tragic event as a father, a son and a lover are gone in an instant due to one man’s moment of madness.
The Wire star Michael B. Jordan focuses all the film’s weight and empathy, rising from the performance a genuine star.
Fruitvale Station | Directed by Ryan Coogler (USA 2013) with Michael B. Jordan and Melonie Diaz. Starts May 8
Originally published in issue #127, May 2014