Patrick Betti 2/3/13 Sundance
Director: Ryan Coogler Writer: Ryan Coogler
The film Fruitvale took me on a journey through a typical day in Oscar Grant’s life. The movie told the story of how Oscar Grant led a difficult adult life but took the opportunity to change and make a better life for his family. The tragedy of his story being cut short by a police officer evoked incredible emotion from as I truly felt for the loss of Oscar Grant.
The film took place in the Bay Area around Oakland and told the story of a black and Latino family who tried to overcome some of their past problems and provide a good life for each other. Their story of innocent youth and their general goodwill towards their community and each other made it a very independent movie. It did not try to exaggerate the lives of these people, rather it told their story in a reserved and careful way which we do not often see in movies today. This made the movie an 8 on the Independent scale to me. The use of small events throughout the day and a limited set of locations made the movie feel as though it took place in a tiny microcosm of space. The movie relied on the actors to bring the stories to life and Michael B. Jordan had a great performance as Oscar Grant, he became a dynamic character which seemed comfortable living the life of Oscar. The film didn’t use tons of special effects but did take exquisite shots of the Bay Area and utilized the local scenery in a way that really gave the feel of the Bay Area to the movie. The movie also took a stance against police brutality and violence, showing the perspective of the emotional damage that violence causes as well as the physical aspect to shed a new light on the subject. By handling this subject matter it brought into question some of the power that police officers have, which shows an independent vision and an artistic way of protesting against this issue.
The film examines the mythology of the police’s view of criminals and especially of black people and other non-white ethnicities. Because of the mythology surrounding areas like Oakland where police consider a lot of black people as threats and violent, they begin to deprive these people of their humanity and show disregard for the value of their lives. The movie tried to show how this mythology needs to change, and by showing the beautiful fragility of life in Oscar Grant and his family it told the dire consequences of this myth and its impact on our lives. Oscar Grant died needlessly and this film challenges the myth for police officers that an accident like this is “acceptable” in places where police might deal with rougher characters. The fact that the police officer who killed Oscar Grant received only two years in jail shows the incredible disconnect in justice for many people in America. This reality of the stories of people who are affected by police brutality might change the minds of those who hold to the myth that force is the only method to police people in areas such as Oakland.