Directed by Ryan Coogler in his feature-length debut, Fruitvale Station is the true story of Oscar Grant, a 22 year-old black man from Oakland, California who was shot and killed by a police officer in a train station. Produced by Oscar-winner actor Forest Whitaker and starring The Wire’s Michael B. Jordan as the wayward but compassionate Grant, the film tracks the day leading up to the shooting and the consequences for Grant’s family, friends, girlfriend and daughter. Fruitvale Station garnered a huge critical response on the international film festival circuit, winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Best First Film award at Cannes.
The New Daily says: Opening with the mobile phone footage of the real 2009 train station shooting of Oscar Grant, Fruitvale Station packs a powerful punch by leaping backwards to bring you the 24 hours before the tragic incident took place. The audience gets acquainted with Grant in such a natural, organic way that he transforms from an anonymous figure of pity to someone who represents all the familiar flaws and strengths of family members and friends we each hold so dear. Michael B. Jordan effortlessly encapsulates all the energy and confusion of youth, as does Melonie Diaz in her role as Grant’s girlfriend. Intrinsically rooted in the race violence that still occurs in the United States, the film is undoubtedly reminiscent of the plight of countless young black men. But Fruitvale Station doesn’t preach. Instead, it merely aims to put a face to a faceless crime. And it does that impeccably.
Entertainment Weekly says: “Jordan’s performance is grippingly subtle: He shows us the despair that’s ruling Oscar, the street ‘tude he puts on like armor, and the joy that comes out only when he’s at the home of his mother (Octavia Spencer). Coogler immerses us in this life, so that when it’s cut short, you won’t just weep, you’ll cry out in protest.”
Rotten Tomatoes says: 94% – “Passionate and powerfully acted, Fruitvale Station serves as a celebration of life, a condemnation of death, and a triumph for star Michael B. Jordan.”
David and Margaret say: David: “I think the film is pretty good on a certain level but it did annoy me that it just did seem to make Oscar just too good to be true. Three and a half.” Margaret: “You want to like it more than you feel you actually can. I’m giving it three and a half.”
The Guardian says: “Coogler’s skill is in showing…how life is precarious and how disaster can blow in almost out of nowhere, surprising even the perpetrator himself. There are a few false notes along the way…But the robust acting and sharp sense of the Bay Area milieu glides us nicely over the film’s few soft patches.”
The New Yorker says: “Coogler is unafraid of emotion—but he hasn’t made a tearjerker. He isn’t interested in settling scores or in issuing racial sermons, either. From the evidence of this movie, Oscar Grant was smart and foolish, loving and irresponsible, candid and evasive, and now he’s another young black man gone.”
Production designer @cattorresny: It’s films like Fruitvale Station that truly display the power of cinematic storytelling. Keep touching hearts Ryan Coogler, I felt that!
Musician @johnlegend: “Just watched “Fruitvale Station”. So powerful and heartbreaking. So good. Go see this.”
Journalist @MarkHarrisNYC: “Just saw Fruitvale Station. An essential movie of and for our moment; what a relief that it’s also such a good one.”
Kids? Although the film provides a beautiful depiction of a father/daughter relationship, the violent opening and closing scenes are too traumatic for kids.
Watch it: When you want a serious, thought-provoking film. Bring tissues.