There are very few movies that I’ve watched in my life that have ever hit me emotionally because I could relate to them on a personal level of sorts. The last movie to hit me hard when I first watched it in theatres was Hardball, and coincidentally enough, Michael B. Jordan was in that movie as well. It was also the last time I cried during a movie, and in Fruitvale Station it almost happened again. Being a black man is tough enough, but being Black in America is an occupation within itself that many people wouldn’t wish to have, although so many people who aren’t Black try to embrace the lifestyle and make it something glamorous – that’s not the case at all. After seeing President Obama speak freely about his experiences of being Black in America and the fact that he’s gone through the treatment that everyday Black men in or out of the hood go through, it makes this movie come alive because you can literally put yourself in the shoes of Oscar Grant and portray his character as if you were living your life as an everyday Black man. What many movies often take away from the leading Black male is that they’re one of two things: All out thug or simply the good seed that gets caught up with the wrong people, but the circumstances are the same which certain everyday situations connect you on the same level no matter where you live. Oscar wasn’t the perfect man, nor was he trying to be, but he was on a path that he didn’t want to be on anymore, and he was just trying to make his life better because of the life he had in front of him (wife, daughter, and concerned mother). When you make that decision that you’re going to do better with yourself, the last thing you’d expect is for that to be taken away from you.
This movie hit home for me because of the fact that Oscar was 22 years old when the unfortunate incident happened, and the way he was depicted could be related to so many people that I grew up with: a young man in the hood who was caught up in the street life trying his best to go legit and make a living. It’s a common struggle for a lot of people, and I even know people who just want that chance to live a life that doesn’t involve them having to worry about whether they’re going to end up leaving their mother either looking across the glass during visiting hours at jail or standing over a coffin at a funeral. You live life, you make bad decisions, and you live with them. As much as you try to move on, somehow they always come back to bite you in the ass, and it’s because of the past why Oscar couldn’t move forward, but not without some controversy. Michael B. Jordan’s performance displayed the fear, worry, and vulnerability of a young man with responsibilities that just wanted to do right by him and his family. It’s not easy when you don’t have job opportunities, and when you don’t want to fail others who rely and look up to you (friends and family), then you live in denial and get in way over your head. I know this because I’ve been there, and that’s not a race thing – that’s an everyday person thing. There were a lot of scenes in this movie where I could put myself in his situation, because not only is it based on a true story, but the things that happen in this movie are things that happen literally every day, and that’s something that I liked about this movie a lot. There wasn’t any Hollywood dramatization like other movies that are usually melodramatic and over-the-top when it comes to their approaches. This movie felt real, and it’s important that people watch this movie because what many people see on TV or what they hear in rap music doesn’t do it justice on how many really live on a day-to-day basis. It’s not fun to roll around trying to grab the next score by robbing someone, or to rely on having to sell drugs just to make next months’ rent, but it’s a reality for many and this movie bringing it to life should show people just an example of how tough it is. There are circumstances that get people into these situations, but given the racial tension in America, as a Canadian black man, I can’t say that I have the same issues (not to say that it’s non-existent here overall).
Octavia Spencer did a great job portraying Oscar’s mother, and seeing this movie with my mom helped give me perspective on her role because my mother could also see herself in her role. Being a mother to a Black man is hard because the same worries that Octavia had for her son in the movie, are the same ones that my mom has for me today. The realism of the movie is what makes it hard hitting emotionally, especially when you know what’s going to happen towards the end of it. A parent can do all that they can to protect their children and give them the best advice possible, but at the end of the day, the children still make the decisions accordingly.
It’s a movie that evokes all emotions, but overall it forced self-reflection, and appreciation for what I have here, because it could have been a lot worse. At the same time, it just goes to show you that Black people are treated different than many, and it’s Black men specifically that come up on the short end of the stick on that treatment. The honesty surrounding the movie as a whole with regards to witnessing a man try to escape a road that leads to a dark end is something that I appreciate because it’s something that many people don’t seem to understand since no one really bothers explaining it to them. With this movie being released in light of the Trayvon Martin case and its unfortunate verdict, it’s going to create an uproar, but it’s what that roar can do to shake the nerves of those higher up to take force and make a change – the people are fed up with injustice, and there does deserve to be equality for all. No one deserves their life to be taken if all they want to do is live it right. I hope many people watch this film and feel how I felt (or at least create an idea) and come out with a different perspective on just how they view people as a whole. ‘From the hood and misunderstood’ is an old term, but it’s something that’s a reality. Innocent lives have been claimed because of it, and it’s time that it ends. This movie is a great start, so I salute the filmmakers and actors involved in bringing this to light. Until something’s done, I’d hope more of these movies continue to be brought out to stir some noise all around. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review
That’s My Word & It STiXX