Fruitvale Station

First Hit:  Fantastic film about a young man who was beginning to find his way.

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area we are familiar with the dramatic killing of Oscar Grant III and the ensuing riots, trial and verdict.

Although this film does not really address any of these three things, it does tell an enormously effective story about Oscar the man. The film frames the story we’re about to witness by beginning with the actual video from a camera phone of New Year’s Day killing of Oscar.

Then it reals back one year when Grant (Michael B. Jordan) was in jail and his mother Wanda (Octavia Spencer) come visits him. What you get in this latter scene is his quick temper which tended to get him into trouble and softness for his mother, which gives you some of his sweetness.

The film then plays out Oscar’s trials and tribulations during the year before his death. You see his love for his daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal), wife Sophina (Melonie Diaz), and family. Oscar loses his job, again, by being tardy, and thinks about selling his stash of pot to make money to pay the rent.

There are well crafted scenes of Oscar helping out people, a dog, and himself, but it is Jordan that makes Oscar come alive. I admired the way the story stayed away from the trial of the officer that shoots Oscar and the ensuing riots in Oakland.

Jordan is fantastic. He shows a depth of character and evolvement not normally attributed to a depiction of true events. Spencer is, as she always is, fully engaged and engaging. Diaz is very strong as Oscar’s girlfriend. Ahna O’Reilly is wonderful as the woman Oscar befriends in a grocery store and who films him being shot. Ryan Coogler wrote and directed this film with a complete vision and excellent execution.

Overall:  This is a strong excellent film.