Film Review: Fruitvale Station


An incredibly powerful film, Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station is essential viewing.

On New Year’s Eve 2008, Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident crosses paths with family, friends, colleagues and others during the final day of the year…

Based on the true story of Oscar Grant III, writer-director Ryan Coogler composes a snapshot of his protagonist’s life through a single day. The set up to Fruitvale Station leaves no doubt as to where the story is heading. Yet the film is insightful, revealing little by little the nature of its central character.

There are various shades to Oscar, and the story presented is an inherently personal one. It seems unfathomable that the story of the day could have been pieced together from those he came into contact with, however this does not really matter as the narrative that is weaved is compelling.

In basing his film on a real event, Coogler could have gone several ways. He chooses to paint a picture of a man, ordinary yet important to his family and friends. The structure of the film and the elements that Coogler decides to dwell on heighten the senselessness of what occurred.

The outcome of Fruitvale Station is illustrated in the shocking opening sequence. Nevertheless, as the film draws closer to its climax, the tension is not any less palpable for knowing the result. In fact, there is an aching inevitability which makes it all the more poignant.

Performances in Fruitvale Station are superb. Michael B. Jordan offers a defining performance as Oscar; portraying Oscar as profoundly human in his various shades. Octavia Spencer provides excellent support. The film’s camera work is also great.

Fruitvale Station is emotive viewing, exhibiting Ryan Coogler’s flair for strong storytelling. A must-see film.

Fruitvale Station is released in UK cinemas on 6th June 2014.