As all Shakespeare testifies, knowing what happens in a play doesn’t matter, its how its told that counts. So it is with the doc-drama Fruitvale Station. The day in the life if the African American Oscar Grant who was gunned down on New Year’s Eve 2009. In fact it is the last day in the life of the 22 year old Oscar.
He is being pulled two ways. He has done time in San Quentin we assume for selling drugs. There he meets and stands up to the Ayrian Brotherhood. A good brother. He is trying to get out selling drugs, but he has lost his job. The rent is due, the mother of his daughter isn’t happy with him sleeping around. He has promised his sister a loan. He has his place as a man. He could well be pulled down into the pit and back into San Quentin.
But he loves his daughter, his partner,his mum and his gran. He has great mates. Despite the pressures he throws away his statch, he goofs with his daughter,loves her mother, helps get his Mum’s birthday party together. He shows wit and personality with a white woman in the supermarket. He strikes up a promising relationship with another white guy who offers hope..
So Oscar is poised, no job he needs money, but he has promised his family he will stay straight. He is young he is black ,we know which way our prejudice says he will swing.
But hey its New Years Eve, lets party. And they are off to see the ‘Frisco fireworks.. The metro gets stuck. But so what, someone has a music system,many have booze and drugs, another a watch they do it in carriage. Its magic, its America. But suddenly, like a crocodile coming out of the mud on the metro is an Aryrian Brother.
It kicks off. Mayhem. The big boys take no prisoners,The alarm is raised.The metro cops pile in. Havent a clue. Throw themselves around. Everyone is taking pictures. The police lose it. Taser guns are pointed. The brothers stay cool. That doesnt stop a police pistol going off. The police man claims he got his pistol and his taser mixed up. He served eleven months.
But of course this is a docu drama so death cant be done without a scene. Oscar doesn’t die on the platform, he goes into emergency surgery, the family wait. We know whats going to happen, they dont.
As Shakespeare knows, its not just how you tell it, in the end there has to be a dead body(at least one) on stage.