Fruitvale Station

2013

Fruitvale Station (2013)

TOMATOMETER

Critic Consensus: Passionate and powerfully acted, Fruitvale Station serves as a celebration of life, a condemnation of death, and a triumph for star Michael B. Jordan.

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Winner of both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, director Ryan Coogler's FRUITVALE STATION follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday falls on New Year's Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), who he hasn't been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter. Crossing paths with friends, family, and strangers, Oscar starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easily. His resolve takes a tragic turn, however, when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year's Day. Oscar's life and tragic death would shake the Bay Area - and the entire nation - to its very core. (c) Weinstein

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Critic Reviews for Fruitvale Station

All Critics (200) | Top Critics (53)

Michael B. Jordan is simply brilliant in his portrayal of Grant, whom Coogler presents as a generally happy, if complex and somewhat troubled young man.

Dec 10, 2013 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

The intimacy of debut writer-director Ryan Coogler's approach to the film and the no-frills, believably real quality of the main performances combine to drive the senselessness of Oscar's killing home with visceral impact.

Dec 10, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Writer-director Ryan Coogler's [film is an] assured and evenhanded debut.

Dec 10, 2013 | Full Review…

It's an unflinching, 360-degree character portrait.

Sep 22, 2013 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

It's hard not to watch Fruitvale Station with a coiled dread... Yet, Coogler's greatest achievement may be in reminding us that Grant was a work in progress with people who loved him in spite of his flaws and because of his hopes.

Jul 26, 2013 | Rating: 3.5/4

You wonder if Coogler would have felt freer had Grant somehow lived that night, if the director weren't put in a position where he felt the need to honor the dead by bringing him to dramatic life. But he believes in his ambition.

Jul 26, 2013 | Rating: C+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Fruitvale Station

A tragic story of intolerance and injustice that sustains an ubiquitous tension right from the first scene (when we are told how it all ends) and eschews any hint of melodrama, showing Oscar as a three-dimensional person with qualities and flaws in order to remind us of the value of human life.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

Michael B. Jordan excels in a sensitive portrayal of a troubled young man, unaware that his time is running out. A poignant story with simple but gripping storytelling.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

While racially motivated police violence isn't anything new, "Fruitvale Station" is a feature to watch in our present political climate, in lieu of ongoing protests around the country. Directed by Ryan Coogler, who won Sundance's Grand Jury Prize in Drama, "Fruitvale Station" depicts the 24 hours before Oscar Grant's death at the hands of transit police, on New Year's Day 2009. The film features actual footage from the shooting, and the protest at the BART station one year later. Jordan stars as Grant, a man who is characterized as having a troubled, often tumultuous life. Recently out of prison, fired for being late to work, and dealing marijuana on the side, Grant has all the makings of a careless criminal. Inversely Grant is a considerate and sweet natured individual who takes care of his daughter and girlfriend, loves his mother, is friendly to strangers, and hopes for a better future. These two parallels show the realities of Grant's life and personality, neither demonizing him nor canonizing him for his behavior. The film simply tries to point out that Grant was not the perpetrator of any crime, that he was unfairly treated and killed, only because of his race. Grant makes for an interesting character, his kindness interlacing with his own personal demons throughout the narrative. This film serves well as an indignant example of the unfair conventions of police brutality, than as a biopic, yet still this entertains throughout as a film. The editing is amazing, the score is poignant in its placement, the performances from Jordan, Butler, and Diaz are realistic and thoughtfully achieved, and the direction from Coogler makes for an interesting watch. The only thing keeping this from being perfect is that it is pointed, and is trying more to educate than entertain, which explains the short runtime and lack of interiority from Grant. I highly recommend this film for those grappling with present events, or for those who just want to watch a well-made, politically motivated piece of filmmaking.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

Based on a true story, and beginning with its ending, there should be no tension in this movie - you know how it will turn out. And yet, the run-up is compelling and honest quotidian drama, and the young leads Michael B. Jordan (veteran of The Wire, no surprise) and Melonie Diaz create characters you truly invest in. Gritty, beautiful film without a contrived plot; a kind of "in memoriam" movie that's realistic and unsentimental. Refreshing!

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

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