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Sac State alumnus writes and directs the story of Oscar Grant

McClatchy Tribune

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Based on true events, “Fruitvale Station” chronicles the story of Oscar Grant, played by Michael B. Jordan, and his death caused by police officers at Bay Area Rapid Transit’s Fruitvale Station in Oakland, CA on New Year’s Day 2009.

Written and directed by Sacramento State alumnus Ryan Coogler, “Fruitvale Station” captures the raw emotion and intensity of the day leading up to that horrendous event.

The strength of the film lies in the simple portrayal of Grant’s last day. Although the viewers know what will eventually happen, “Fruitvale Station” resonates heavily because of the tension that the real story brings.

Not only does Jordan tell the story of Grant naturally and effortlessly, but you can see Grant being captured in Jordan’s whole body. You can see the life of Grant pulsating in all of Jordan’s limbs because he is completely absorbed in playing the role of Grant. This makes the movie that much more interesting to watch.

Accompanying Jordan is Octavia Spencer, who plays his mother Wanda, and Melonie Diaz as his girlfriend Sophina. Both of these women do a wonderful job in presenting a natural progression of emotion in the movie. They offer clear obstacles in the movie by directly challenging Grant to be a better son .

The police officers held responsible for Grant’s death are portrayed by Chad Michael Murray (Officer Ingram) and Kevin Durand (Officer Caruso). The names of the officers were changed for confidentiality purposes of the film.

The cinematic quality of the film is exceptionally done. One of the most interesting qualities of the film was the fact that whenever a person was called or text messaged in the film, you could see what the messages said or the person that was called. I thought that it was an intriguing element that heightened the modern view of the film.

Viewers are taken on an emotional roller coaster as we see Grant trying to turn his life around after going to prison in 2007 and having relationship trouble with his girlfriend. Although Coogler does a good job in showcasing Grant as trying to rectify his life, it almost seems unrealistic that Grant turned over a new leaf so quickly as it usually takes time to get rid of bad habits.

Despite all of the sad sentiment surrounding the film, there are moments of humor that uplift you unexpectedly. The comedic timing is superb and offers brief moments of laughter that aren’t forced.

The duality of Grant as a former convict trying to turn his life around causes “Fruitvale Station” to be heartwrenching. It is the type of film that leaves you feeling dissatisfied, not because of the quality of the film, but because Grant could have been any one of us.

“Fruitvale Station” is an excellent movie to ponder over with close friends and family. It will challenge your notions of justice and equality in our modern society. If you’re looking for a thought provoking and equally emotional movie, “Fruitvale Station” is for you.

Briana Swain can be reached at [email protected]

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