On January 1st, 2009, an Oakland police officer shot and killed a 22 year old Oscar Grant. Ryan Coogler begins his film with the inevitable. The film’s ending is stated at it’s beginning and is accompanied by the cellphone footage captured of the event. Coogler never tried to play coy about the film’s singular moment, but rather, paint a portrait of the man, and perhaps, provide an explanation as to how he found himself pinned down by officers in the early hours of the new year. He takes us through the last hours of Oscar Grant’s life. We see how he interacts with his homies, his girlfriend, his mother, and his daughter. Oscar isn’t a perfect person, he himself knows this and his inner struggle as a man just trying to find his place and prosperity in this world, is shown on full display for the audience. We all connect to Oscar’s hopes, and dreams, and concerns for his life, because we’ve all had them. However we are reminded that although Oscar and us are the same, and have the same fears, and the same wants, and the same needs, and that we and Oscar love our family, and friends, and children, and girlfriend; we are reminded that because of Oscar’s skin color, all of that was sporadically ended for him. That because he was black and at the wrong place, at the wrong time, his life was suddenly cut short, for no reason. Coogler shows us the man Oscar Grant was on the last day of his life; a person so complex that the tragedy we feel as an audience, is that we’ll never get to see what he could’ve become.
This is not so much a review, just a film that I’m recommending at a time like this, because Films have always had the potential to make people understand what they couldn’t before.