Fruitvale Station: Film Review

Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company
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There’s going to be a lot of talk about Michael Jordan in 2013 – and it won’t have anything to do with the Chicago Bulls. Michael B. Jordan, the 22-year-old actor who stars as the lead in Fruitvale Station, is this year’s greatest artistic discovery. Write it down. Memorize it. Get your Oscar ballot ready.

Jordan plays Oscar Grant, the young man living in the Bay Area in 2008 that was gunned down in cold blood by BART officers. That is the climax of the movie. But it really isn’t.

In this finely tuned and delicately acted film, the action follows Oscar as he goes through his day. He wakes up in the morning, sensing something new is afoot. He resolves to do better in his life, though he isn’t really sure why. Nothing new has happened to compel him to change. He wants to be a better son and a better lover. A better companion and a better citizen. And then he is killed.

The film, from writer-director Ryan Coogler, is both hard hitting and fantastical, kind of like Lee Daniels’ Precious was. There’s a lyrical quality to the misery on display, and the hope that comes at the end of the film – a hope that a nation’s citizenry can rise to defend its most unjustly vilified, especially in light of the Trayvon Martin murder – is what makes Fruitvale Station one of the best movies of the year.