10 June 2014

Fruitvale Station 3

In his first feature length film, Ryan Coogler directs Michael B Jordan and Octavia Spencer in Fruitvale Station, based on the events that took place on December 31 2008, on a subway carriage heading into San Francisco. Whilst not widely reported in the UK, the story of a police offer unlawfully killing a 22 year old shocked America and shined a light on the inequalities present in many inner cities. 

In his review of the film, The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw describes the movie as ‘a tough and moving drama about African-American lives’. Oscar Grant is travelling into the city centre for a New Years Eve party with his friends when an ex-convict attacks him. The police arrive and with Oscar handcuffed, his hands behind his back, lying face down on the floor, he is shot in the back by a police officer.

The passengers on the train record the fight and subsequent police arrival on their phone cameras with the footage going viral after Oscar's death. The shocking footage is used by Coogler to open the film reinforcing the appalling truth of the story. 

Fruitvale Station is a ‘deeply moving drama played out on the small stage of ordinary people's lives.’ The film doesn’t attempt to make any political or moral judgement on the events that took place but Coogler, who grew up in the same neighbourhood as Oscar Grant, ‘evokes a tangible sense of place, and his staging of the climactic incident hits like a fist in the gut.’

Michael B Jordan as Oscar gives a ‘multilayered performance which oozes everyman charisma; the actor’s twitchy yet robust physicality and earnest, deep-pool eyes make for a consistently arresting point of contrast in the character.

Fruitvale Station is now showing at Picturehouse at FACT. Tickets are available online now, from the Box Office, and by phone on 0871 902 5737.