Cinematic Releases: Fruitvale Station

Ryan Coogler's debut film, Fruitvale Station is a timely piece of cinema that will tug at your heart, anger you, and altogether make you question the incompetence of the people we trust with our lives. This is the true story of Oscar Grant, a 22 year old male that was killed by over bearing, power hungry police at a public transit stop in 2008. It's a tragic film that will have you pondering a justice system that often fails in the hands of the officers meant to protect us.

The movie doesn't paint a perfect picture of Grant. In fact, we're witness to the struggle between his former thug lifestyle and that of a loving parent that wants to do right. Fruitvale Station sticks to the days and events that lead up to his tragic and early demise while offering insight in to the challenge of going straight. Fruitvale Station presents Oscar as a person that was sadly torn between a life of crime and being a person of strong character. Ultimately, we're given a more positive outlook on where his life was headed. I guess we'll never know. Due to the lack of training, impatience and ignorance of the BART police force, Grant's life was ended well before its time.

As a first film, Coogler has a firm hold on emotion and tension that most younger directors not only lack but are sometimes scared to use. The most important aspect of the film is that Coogler doesn't present this as anti-authoritative propaganda. Instead, he just presents the facts. Grant was doing nothing wrong. The police acted irrationally and ended someone's life that had no intention of harming anyone.

If you can handle emotionally charged drama, Fruitvale Station is a film you'll want to see. It's a wonderful first entry from a talented and youthful director that is slightly reminiscent of a younger John Singleton in style and use of hyper realism. Now, I can't wait to see what he does with the new Rocky spin off film. If it's anywhere near this good, I'll be more than happy to see it.

-Review by Chris George