I was living in the Bay Area during this entire ordeal. From the first surfacing of the videos online to the subsequent trial and riots that followed. I remember it well. I was so confused as to what happened. Why would they shoot an unarmed person? Why did the cop get out of jail only after 11 months?
But this movie isn’t here to answer that. In fact, the film captures the final 24 hours of Oscar Grant’s life in a way that doesn’t really make you think too much of the actual crime. In a way, it was made to teach us how much we are like him.
From the initial perception of him, I couldn’t relate so much other than my age at the time. He was black, he was a father, he was out of a job and had been sent to jail for drug dealings. I couldn’t relate to that and in a way, our perception of him is altered because he had been a trouble-maker. This film does shows us all that, but it also gave us a look at the man that he was.
Most times we try to identify with the character in films and I saw a lot of myself in this movie. Oscar was a man that understood how great it is to have a second chance. He was on the path to turning his life around and he had tremendous support from his girlfriend and his family — especially his mother. I can relate to that. I haven’t been down in the dumps like he has, but I absolutely understand how valuable it is to have people love and support you.
We saw his compassion for people all over the place. People liked him. He was a good guy. He wanted a better future. That’s what we all can admire.
The movie itself really captured a lot of his past baggage but also was a shining glimmer of hope. As director Ryan Coogler pointed out, he wanted to present to us the raw footage of his shooting at the beginning of the film to help us understand that our perception of him might change after seeing the movie and understanding him.
There’s no resolution in this film. There’s no happy ending. And I think that’s what made this movie stand out to me. That actually is how things are in life sometimes. It broke my heart to be reminded that life isn’t fair.
I got a chance to see the hope and potential of a man blossom in one day only to see it taken away. The story wasn’t about proving if the officer was guilty for intentionally shooting him or accidentally thinking he had his Taser. The movie wasn’t trying to make us feel like we have to go out and cry injustice on the street — although that’s how some reactions were in the theater.
The movie, for me, was a reminder that our lives can be so turbulent and the future is uncertain. But if we take a look at Oscar’s life, we can find inspiration and understanding that we can still make something good out of it even though there continues to be struggles in our lives. He never got that chance to make good on his. But the uncertainty of his future didn’t stop him from striving.
I recommend that you go see this film. It means a lot to me because this happened where I’m from and to see the story portrayed so wonderfully, I couldn’t be any prouder. I cried with tears of sadness and tears of hope.
I wish he didn’t have to die. I wish that the riots didn’t happen. I wish that the officer would have had a longer sentence. These things aren’t fair and it does make us angry and disappointed. That’s what the film did to me. But the bigger thing that I got out of it is that we can’t stop striving for great things because of the fear of the uncertainty. It’s what happened before Oscar’s death that we should appreciate and love. That’s what we should be striving for in our lives too.
Michael B. Jordan was tremendous in portraying Oscar in the film. He came off as a guy that is very likable. I probably don’t have as much in common on the outside surface with him, but somehow he gave me a character that I felt that I could be friends with. I’m sure a lot of other people feel the same way.
And major shout out to Octavia Spencer in her role as Oscar’s mother. She better get an award for that performance. I cried when she cried because I get a mother’s love and how much it hurts to see her son struggle. She captured everything we want in our mothers: loving, strict, forgiving and most importantly — always there to protect her child during the highs and lows of life. That’s what we want and need from our mothers. We got that in the movie.