Distance: 3 miles
I had read the excellent reviews of Fruitvale Station. (93% on Rotten Tomatoes, 2013 Sundance winner of the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for a U.S. Dramatic Film) So, even though it depicts a tragic incident (the killing of Oscar Grant) that happened right here in the Bay Area - on BART even - I decided to go this afternoon.
From about 40 minutes into the movie, I began slipping on my coat ready to leave, then taking it off thinking 'give it a little while; maybe then it won't be so hard to take.' Three times on and off. Then finally I did something I haven't done since Woody Allen's Deconstructing Harry, I left before it was over. Not because it wasn't extraordinary (unlike D H above) Because it was Just So Sad.
I don't know exactly what I was expecting. Of course it would be sad. And the great acting that earned the excellent reviews made it even sadder. All the Oscar people were so real and likable. Oscar as portrayed by Michael B. Jordan was deceitful, mercurial, immature, and Utterly Charming. You really, really don't want him to die, but the movie opens with an actual video of the BART police accosting and shooting him, and everyone, certainly around here, knows he died. So, every single scene requires you to receive it in two minds: one taking in his life, the other knowing he is dead. You're constantly witnessing the fragility of life; you cannot get away from it for a moment. (I even asked at the ticket booth what happened in the last part of the movie, and, yup, the death, the despair of the family, the vigil, then his real - fatherless - daughter on screen).
As I said, for me it was just too heartbreaking. But straightforward and dignified in its presentation. Not gratuitous; the director and screenplay writer, Ryan Coogler*, had a higher purpose for the movie. I hope it is fulfilled.