Flash Movie Review: Fruitvale Station

The guards go after the one that is not bloody. This was told to a friend of mine, who was doing one on one work with a prison inmate. The prisoner was told if he got into a fight he should not fight back, for the guards assume the non-bloody combatant was the instigator. I was surprised to hear the guards would act on assumptions before facts; but then, I realized so many people make assumptions solely based on a person’s looks. In grade school when teams had to be formed during gym, I was usually one of the last ones to be picked. I was large and uncomfortable with my size. However, during a game of Bombardment my classmates discovered I could throw a fast accurate ball. For all future games I suddenly was picked much earlier to be on someone’s team. Even today I am sensitive about people who make assumptions. In the scheme of things my experiences were trivial compared to the events in this powerful movie, based on a true story. Twenty-two year old Oscar Grant with his girlfriend Sophina, played by Michael B. Jordan (Red Tails, Chronicle) and Melonie Diaz (Be Kind Rewind, Raising Victor Vargas), decided to take the train into the city to celebrate New Year’s Eve with their friends. It was a ride that would shake up the California Bay Area community. Not knowing anything about this story, I do not know how accurate it was with its portrayal of the events that took place. From a movie standpoint, I thought the acting was raw and real. Michael and Octavia Spencer (The Help, Seven Pounds), who played his character’s mother Wanda, were incredible. Kevin Durand (Real Steel, I Am Number Four) as Officer Caruso was so good he scared me. The hand held filming with its shakiness did not work for me except in the scenes on the train. Overall I thought the story was well presented except for a few parts that seemed unnecessary, like the dog scene. This Sundance and Cannes Film Festival winner could be used as a case study on the effects perceptions and assumptions have on society. There were a couple of brief scenes where blood was shown.


3 1/4 stars

About moviejoltz

From a long line of movie afficionados, one brother was the #1 renter of movies in the country with Blockbuster, I am following in the same traditions that came before me. To balance out the long hours seated in dark movie theaters, I also teach yoga and cycling. For the past 3 years, I have correctly picked the major Oscar winners... so join me as we explore the wonder of movies and search for that perfect 4 star movie.

Posted on July 25, 2013, in Drama and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Can’t wait to see this, thank you for your informative review!

  2. Hi again. :).
    I plan on seeing this very soon as it has just arrived in my locale–in one art theatre at the moment. In comparison, Wolverine is everywhere though in this major metro area. Unlike you, I am well aware of the Oscar Grant ‘story’ as part of our ‘history’ in America. Found out about this film via a PBS piece while it was in production. Your commentary seems to show that it is a film which engages people unaware of the actual events before viewing. Thanks.

    • Knowing the story ahead of time, I really look forward to hear your thoughts after viewing the movie. And the same holds true here, Fruitvale Station was only playing in 3 theaters in the entire city. Luckily one of them was easy to get to for me to see the film.

    • Spoiler Alert!
      Hello moviejoltz dude,
      Yesterday I saw Fruitvale Station ALL by myself, as in the ONLY person in the theatre for the earliest show time in the middle of the week. Not to worry though, according to the Tivoli’s owner/operator the evening and weekend showtimes have done well enough that it’s running there for another full week. This is a movie theatre that ALLOWS you to bring in food you’ve purchased from elsewhere while you watch a film. It’s a very cool fringe benefit.
      But that’s not much about the film.
      It was every bit as good a film as I expected from the special I’d seen about it lead me to expect. It succeeds in conveying a sense of all that was lost when the individual known as Oscar Grant died–a loving father, a guy willing to call his grandmother for how to cook fish for a complete stranger, a guy trying hard to make it in today’s hostile world, a decent human being overall despite his flaws and mistakes. Oscar Grant becomes more than just another name in a long list of names that his story represents. He becomes a real person on the screen and the world is made less by his loss, especially the world of his family.
      I was glad that the film did NOT venture into the area of trials, protests and violence except for the textual info at the end. It doesn’t have to do that to convey that there is something really messed up in our world considering everything happened on that BART platform– because Oscar Grant’s story represents the untold stories of many others.
      But the film, as well as ‘history’, still has me asking, “How the hell does anyone mistake a gun for a taser?” WTF?!!!!!!

      • Thank you for your comments. I hope you don’t mind, but I had to add the tag “Spoiler Alert” to them, since I try not to reveal too many details about the actual story in my reviews. Your last line was the same thought I had when I saw the film. In fact I have a friend who will be in SF next week and plans on going to the Fruitvale Station and seeing the movie. This certainly was a film that provided the basis for some lively discussions. Once again thanks for coming by to leave your thoughts, I appreciate it.

      • No problem regarding the “Spoiler Alert” — When you go to see a film based on events that you have prior knowledge of you don’t really think about “Spoilers”–so that thought never crossed my mind. But if you have no clue what you might be walking into, then, it’s another story.
        I am heartened that you had the same thought as that expressed in my last line.

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