7:30 PM, 13th May, 2014
Based on the true story of the shooting of a young black man named Oscar Grant III, Fruitvale Station recalls the end of his life with a fictional depiction of his last day on earth.
Early on New Year’s Day in 2009, 22 year old Oscar Grant was shot and killed by a BART Police Officer, after being pulled off the train for getting into a fight. The circumstances of his death are controversial – with the officer apparently intending to tase the man while he was restrained, but instead drawing his pistol and accidentally shooting him.
This movie is not about all that messy business surrounding the shooting; rather, it serves as a celebration of a man’s life. Director Ryan Coogler has set out to make a film that would humanise the names in the paper, and humanise he does.
The film opens with actual cell-phone footage of the shooting, which hammers home the tragedy of the event, and undergirds the drama of the rest of the film. The rest of the film is, for the most part, the portrait of a man’s life in one day; specifically on the cusp of a new year. He’s trying to get his job back, he’s trying to give up marijuana, he’s visiting his girlfriend and he’s celebrating with family.
We see his strengths, his flaws, his struggles and apprehensions. We see a young man, full of life, full of potential. And in this portrait of promise, the tragedy hits all the harder.