The ten most selfless acts committed by the protagonist of Fruitvale Station

Thursday May 16th 2013


A Grand Jury Prize winner earlier this year at Sundance, Fruitvale Station sees Ultra Culture favourite Michael B. Jordan (Steve from Chronicle, Wallace from The Wire) play Oscar Grant, a young Californian who became the victim of an horrific act of police brutality in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2009.

It was a clear-cut case, with no suggestion of wrongdoing on Grant’s part, but not satisfied with simply absolving his subject, writer-director Ryan Coogler goes to great lengths (and employs considerable artistic license) to characterise him as a sort of latter-day Jesus, who fills his time exclusively with acts of the utmost virtue. This doesn’t make Grant feel especially human, and — worse still — seems to imply that the crimes perpetrated against him might have been somehow justifiable had he been anything less than a saint.

Here are just ten of the altruistic deeds he commits in the film’s opening hour:

1 Wishes his mother a happy birthday no fewer than three times: once by text at the very instant the clock strikes midnight, once on the phone as he offers to buy groceries for her and refuses to accept money for them, and once in person as he throws her a birthday party.
2 Unquestioningly loans his sister $300 despite having recently lost his job. Also agrees to buy a birthday card for their mother on her behalf and sign it in her handwriting.
3 Shows his daughter how to brush her teeth, instilling within her the importance of rigorous dental hygiene.
4 Gives his girlfriend a lift to work, calls her a few hours later to see if she wants to meet up for lunch, and then picks her up at the end of the day.
5 Witnesses a dog being run over, carefully carries the animal out of the street and cradles it in his arms for the duration of its final moments.
6 Symbolically throws a bag of drugs into the ocean.
7 Sees a woman struggling to select fish from a supermarket deli counter. Not only helps her to choose a fish, but also calls his grandmother to ask for her advice on the subject.
8 Hands his daughter an extra lunch treat while his girlfriend isn’t looking, and later cheers her up by promising to take her to Chuck E. Cheese’s at the weekend.
9 Bribes the doorman of an office building to let a pregnant stranger go in to use the bathroom.
10 Orchestrates a utopian (and impromptu) New Year’s Eve party on the subway, attended by members of at least three different races and two different sexual orientations. Generally spreads goodwill throughout mankind.