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Fruitvale Station **** 1/2

If you are a frequent reader of MillersTime, it may seem that I like every film I see.

Not so.

Usually, I only post about films (and books too) that I have particularly enjoyed and rated 4-4 ½-5 stars. The films that don’t fall into that category, I simply refrain from reviewing here.

Also, you may have noticed that I am partial to small films, documentaries, and particularly ones that are often based upon ‘true stories,’ tho that phrase leaves a lot of room for abuse. It’s probably something about my lack of imagination and more about my interest in what has actually occurred. (I made a rough calculation this morning of the books in my wonderful library and at least half of them are non-fiction.)  So there is some consistency in my approach to literature and film.

Anyway, my wife and I recently saw Fruitvale Station, a recounting of a particularly tragic day in the life of Oscar Grant, a young black man, in Oakland, a mostly accurate one from what I have been able to discover.

In light of the George Zimmerman-Treyvon Martin events and President Obama’s recent unscripted and partially personal statements about being black in America (worth the 18 minutes if you haven’t seen it), this film is quite timely.

101845_galWhat made the film of interest for me was not simply about what happened that day nor its aftermath but rather it’s depiction of life for this individual and his family and the struggles Grant had with turning his life around and being a good father, a good husband, and a good son.

The performances of the main characters, none of whom I knew (tho Octavia Spencer and Michael B. Jordan are known to many of you), were terrific, and for me added to the enjoyment of the film. I didn’t feel I was watching someone I knew acting. I felt I was let into the life of the main character and his family in a largely honest and straightforward manner.

For Ryan Coogle, who wrote and directed Frutivale Station, this was a first film. He took a real life tragedy, a story about equality and justice, and rather than turn it into a polemic, he did precisely what President Obama asked that we all do: look both within ourselves and our society and try to both understand what is occurring and what we might be able to do about it.

For me, the film had no easy answers nor obvious villains, just insights into what life is like today for a portion of our society that many do not really know.

Check it out.

And let me and others know what you think .