We take secret pleasure in criticizing movies. (That alien invasion? Totally unbelievable.) But every so often we see a film that’s so well made and emotionally honest, there’s not a thing we could say in derision.
That movie is Fruitvale Station.
Fruitvale Station tells the real story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old unarmed black man who was shot and killed by a San Francisco transit cop for a crime no greater than “wrong place, wrong time.”
The 2009 incident was caught on witnesses’ camera phones, and this footage is used at the beginning of director Ryan Coogler’s stunning debut. But Coogler’s main focus is the hours before the violence. In these gripping, portentous scenes, Grant drops off his daughter at preschool, buys a birthday card for his mother (played by the sharp-tongued Octavia Spencer) and fights for his job at a deli counter.
As Grant, Michael B. Jordan (The Wire, Friday Night Lights) gives a performance so understated and raw, it’s hard not to think about awards season. But the real power comes from the tragedy of a life cut short, particularly as Trayvon Martin conversations loom large.
Fruitvale is moving, upsetting and totally fantastic--the kind of movie you’ll be thinking about long after the credits roll.