A young California man with a troubling past is doing his best to turn both his life and his family’s life around. He has a daughter who looks up to him, and a girlfriend who desperately needs to trust him again. After a second time in jail, he realizes he needs to straighten out his life, and there is no better time than on New Years Eve. After a day filled with promises of a better year, he takes his girlfriend out to see the fireworks one town over. As the clock strikes midnight, he is reunited with his friends and ghosts from his past, which leaves him in a situation that has him begging for his life.
This heart-wrenching scenario is the perfect set-up for a great movie, but when that story is based on true events, it makes for an even more touching film. Fruitvale Station, which released today in select theaters nationwide, chronicles a day in the life of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, III, and parts of his troubling past. The incident described in the movie made national news, leaving Grant’s family, friends, and hometown in a state of disbelief.
The movie was written and directed by Ryan Coogler, and was shown at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival where it received two awards: Grand Jury Prize for Dramatic Feature and the Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic Film. During an interview with The Weinstein Company, he explained he found inspiration in creating the film soon after the news of Grant broke. This was Coogler’s first feature film.
The movie stars Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant. Jordan is best known for his role in Chronicle. On the Fruitvale Station website, it states in his biography that he is one of Hollywood’s brightest actors for his age. In fact, producer Nina Yan Gongiovi told The Weinstein Company that Jordan “was so right on, so on point for portraying Oscar Grant.”
Coogler and his team aspired to make the movie feel as genuine as possible. One way this was achieved was including actual cell phone footage from the night of incident during the movie’s climax. Gongiovi spoke about how it was extremely important to use the footage because of the large role it played in Grant’s New Years Eve.
Since the movie is based on true events, many of the viewers going to see the movie may already know the ending. However, the New York Times said, “even as it unfolds with a terrible sense of inevitability, ‘Fruitvale Station’ is rarely predictable … bending the audience’s reflexive emotional horror and moral outrage.”
In one scene, Grant is speaking with his daughter Tatiana (Arianna Neal) to try and assure her she was safe after she heard fireworks, which she thought were gunshots. Before he leaves with his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), he promises that he will take her to Chuck E Cheese if she behaves at her cousin’s house for the night.
The movie is designed to tug at your heartstrings as it chronicles the life a young man trying to put his life back in order. The movie is meant to leave a lasting appreciation for your family and loved ones, and remind you that every moment is precious. During an interview with The Weinstein Company, Melonie Diaz explained it best.
“My dentist saw the movie. I gave her a ticket to go to a screening, and she emailed and was like, ‘Thank you so much. I’m going to go home right now and hug my son.’” said Diaz. “I was like, that’s cool, you know? It’s such a simple thing but you want to go home and appreciate your family.”
For a full list of theaters and release dates, visit the official Fruitvale Station site.