Winter 2014 Features series
Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 4:00pm
Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 7:00pm
Directed by Ryan Coogler
Screenplay by Ryan Coogler
Starring Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, and Michael B. Jordan
Rated 14A ·
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, writer-director Ryan Coogler’s extraordinary feature debut focuses on the senseless New Year’s Day 2009 police shooting of Oscar Grant, a young black man, whose murder sent shockwaves through the US after it was captured on camera by his fellow train passengers.
Opening with the actual phone footage of the incident at Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California, the film then rewinds to recount the final twenty-four hours of Grant’s life. Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle, The Wire) plays Oscar, a charismatic youth who is devoted to his mom (Octavia Spencer, The Help, Smashed), adores his young daughter and strives to be true to her mother Sophina (Melonie Diaz, Hamlet 2, Be Kind Rewind). Newly released from prison, he is earnestly trying to put his life back together. Following him through his everyday struggles, Coogler weaves a nuanced story that delicately captures the hopes and frustrations of Oscar’s life, and the shocking circumstances surrounding his death.
Jordan gives a revelatory performance as a sincere but flawed father, son and friend. Diaz is equally vibrant as his devoted girlfriend, while Spencer anchors the cast as his stalwart mother. Coogler, with his keen sense of the story’s milieu, creates an insightful and achingly realistic portrait of Oscar’s life. Fruitvale Station is an immensely powerful drama that puts a human face to tragic headlines.
“Fruitvale Station is a directorial debut of limitless promise; as a first feature it’s almost miraculous. At the age of 27 Mr. Coogler seems to have it all, and have it firmly in place a clearsighted take on his subject (no airbrushing of flaws or foibles here, just confident brush strokes by a mature artist); a spare, spontaneous style that can go beyond naturalism into a state of poetic grace, and a gift for getting, or allowing, superb actors to give flawless performances.” (Joel Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal)
“Even as it unfolds with a terrible sense of inevitability, Fruitvale Station is rarely predictable. Mr. Coogler, with a ground-level, hand-held shooting style that sometimes evokes the spiritually alert naturalism of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, has enough faith in his actors and in the intrinsic interest of the characters’ lives to keep overt sentimentality and messagemongering to a minimum. You get the sense that he might have made this movie even if the world had not handed him a terrible true story, and made any day in the life of Oscar Grant into a sad, touching and subtle film.” (A.O. Scott, The New York Times)