Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 46 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 43 out of 46
  2. Negative: 0 out of 46
  1. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jul 25, 2013
    88
    It's a compelling tale that offers the opportunity for reflection and discussion about issues that have never really gone away and continue to lurk in the cultural background.
  2. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jul 10, 2013
    100
    Fruitvale Station is great political filmmaking because it's great filmmaking, period.
  3. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jul 11, 2013
    88
    Fruitvale Station is a gut punch of a movie. By standing in solidarity with Oscar, it becomes an unstoppable cinematic force.
  4. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jul 11, 2013
    75
    The movie is modest in its ambition and powerful in its reverberations.
  5. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jul 26, 2013
    88
    Writer-director Coogler could easily have turned Fruitvale Station into a work of agitprop — a film to work you into a froth of anger — but he’s after things that are harder to grasp: the measure of a man’s life and the smaller struggles, satisfactions, and injustices that can fill it.
  6. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jul 11, 2013
    100
    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.
  7. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Jul 11, 2013
    100
    Made with assurance and deep emotion, Fruitvale Station is more than a remarkable directing debut for 26-year-old Ryan Coogler. It's an outstanding film by any standard.
  8. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Jul 11, 2013
    100
    Michael B. Jordan is superbly multi-dimensional as Grant.
  9. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Jul 18, 2013
    100
    It shows us the everyday pressures and problems, the joys and pleasures, experienced by someone moving through life. And then that BART train pulls into Fruitvale, and the rest is history.
  10. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Jul 25, 2013
    75
    Coogler occasionally overplays his hand: The scene in which Oscar says goodbye to his daughter for what we know will be the last time is prolonged to the point of overkill.
  11. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jul 12, 2013
    75
    The only character in the film who seems to have the requisite gravity is Oscar’s mother, Wanda (the marvelous Octavia Spencer), whose scene with her son in San Quentin is as hard-bitten as the rest of the film isn’t.
  12. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Jul 11, 2013
    80
    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.
  13. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Jul 11, 2013
    40
    Coogler isn’t exactly an invisible hand. He pokes and prods his audience at every turn: Neither the false moments nor the powerful ones leave much mystery about how we’re supposed to feel.
  14. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Jul 24, 2013
    67
    Michael B. Jordan (The Wire, Friday Night Lights) delivers a brilliant, sensitive performance as Oscar and is one of the primary reasons Fruitvale has such resonance.
  15. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jul 18, 2013
    100
    Fruitvale Station works because Coogler and his leading man present a many-sided protagonist, neither saint nor unalloyed sinner.
  16. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Mar 10, 2013
    80
    As Oscar, Jordan at moments gives off vibes of a very young Denzel Washington in the way he combines gentleness and toughness; he effortlessly draws the viewer in toward him.
  17. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Jul 17, 2013
    90
    Fruitvale Station is a document of irreparable grief and paradoxical hopefulness; it launches the careers of two immensely talented young African-American artists and offers the possibility that Oscar Grant’s life, while it was much too short and ended so dreadfully, served a higher purpose in the long arc of history.
  18. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Jul 11, 2013
    63
    The film, then, places a heavy hand on the scales of justice as it winds up with a fuzzy plea — an implied demand for a second, federal civil rights trial for the cop, who got a light sentence. But the shooting wasn’t a racist one.
  19. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jul 11, 2013
    100
    One of the most extraordinary films you’ll see this year.
  20. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Jul 18, 2013
    100
    What makes it a must see is its timelessness.
  21. 100
    Fruitvale Station will rock your world — and, if the life of Oscar Grant means anything, compel you to work to change it.
  22. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jul 26, 2013
    90
    It isn’t just a terrific movie. It’s an important one.
  23. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jul 26, 2013
    100
    Fruitvale Station is only the first in a string of civil-rights minded movies set to hit theaters this year -- contributing to what could be the most racially conscious award season in recent memory.
  24. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Jul 25, 2013
    83
    As storytelling, it's extremely effective.
  25. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Jul 25, 2013
    100
    Fruitvale Station is a confident, touching, and, finally, shattering directorial début.
  26. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Mar 10, 2013
    83
    Fruitvale is largely sustained by Jordan's career-making performance and the way Coogler uses it to analyze his subject...It's a fascinating investigation into the contrast between media perception and intimate truths.
  27. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jul 24, 2013
    100
    A movie as direct and devastating as a point-blank bullet to the back, like the one that killed Oscar Grant on the first morning of a new year, 2009.
  28. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Jul 9, 2013
    75
    Fruitvale Station lacks the same global impact as Milk, but it’s still a harrowing film worth seeing and honoring for boldness and insight. It’s one of the most sobering must-see movies of the summer.
  29. Reviewed by: Roger Moore
    Jul 22, 2013
    88
    Michael B. Jordan (“Red Tails”) is never less than riveting as Oscar, and he has to be.
  30. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Jul 9, 2013
    80
    Fruitvale Station is intimate in the best way, thanks largely to Jordan's deft, responsive performance.
  31. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Jul 17, 2013
    100
    Fruitvale Station’s wrenching power lies in the specificity of its storytelling and the ordinary human warmth of the world it conjures. You walk out of it, not shaking your head over an abstract social problem, but grieving the senseless death of one flawed, complex, tragically young man.
  32. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Jul 12, 2013
    90
    Fruitvale Station isn't really a surprising film, except insofar as it's rare to see such a warmly emotional big-screen portrait of black family life.
  33. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Jul 10, 2013
    67
    Putting a human face on a public tragedy that already had a human face, Fruitvale Station plays like an uncomplicated eulogy, with little more to say on its subject than “what a shame this bad thing happened.”
  34. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    Jul 25, 2013
    100
    Fruitvale Station has all the impact of a thoroughly researched, well-argued documentary. But Coogler made the right choice in going with drama.
  35. Reviewed by: Tim Robey
    Jun 5, 2014
    80
    While admitting the man’s flaws, Coogler chooses to give Oscar the benefit of the doubt, which is precisely what he didn’t get on that platform just after midnight struck.
  36. Reviewed by: Jessica Kiang
    May 17, 2013
    75
    Fruitvale Station is impressive for a debut, and displays the unimpeachable intent to involve us all in the human story behind a headline. And it certainly displays great promise from its director and accomplished performances from its cast.
  37. Reviewed by: Xan Brooks
    Jul 6, 2013
    80
    The robust acting and sharp sense of the Bay Area milieu glides us nicely over the film's few soft patches.
  38. Reviewed by: Bruce Ingram
    Jul 19, 2013
    88
    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.
  39. Reviewed by: Geoff Berkshire
    Apr 6, 2013
    50
    Even if every word of Coogler’s account of the last day in Grant’s life held up under close scrutiny, the film would still ring false in its relentlessly positive portrayal of its subject.
  40. Reviewed by: Patrick Gamble
    Jun 5, 2014
    80
    It's Coogler's confrontational depiction of police brutality and his attempts to represent the society he aims to inspire and inform that makes Fruitvale Station such essential viewing.
  41. Reviewed by: Amanda May Meyncke
    Apr 6, 2013
    90
    Fruitvale is outstanding, a telling portrait and testament to the life of one man and the complicated relationships to race and class that still exist within America today.
  42. Reviewed by: Simon Braund
    Jun 2, 2014
    80
    A deeply moving drama played out on the small stage of ordinary people’s lives. An unforgettable performance from Jordan invests Grant with real humanity, while Coogler’s unvarnished script and sure-handed direction propel the film to its inevitable, terrible conclusion.
  43. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    Jul 25, 2013
    63
    We feel the death on the platform so acutely not because it’s a stupid act of randomness, but hardly untypical racist violence, but because we’ve come to love this man.
  44. Reviewed by: Steve Boone
    Jul 12, 2013
    100
    In many ways, Fruitvale Station is as green and earnest as "Boyz N the Hood," a debut film made by another alumnus of Coogler's alma mater, USC: John Singleton. Yet its ambition is closer to that of the most important American indie film in at least a decade, Patrick Wang's "In the Family," a must-see that's now available on DVD.
  45. Reviewed by: Sam Adams
    Jul 9, 2013
    60
    Coogler, who grew up in the same neighborhoods as Grant, evokes a tangible sense of place, and his staging of the climactic incident hits like a fist in the gut. It’s not enough to wipe out his reduction of this real-life figure into a composite-character martyr or the lukewarm filmmaking that’s come before, even if you’re left shaken all the same.
  46. Reviewed by: Bill Weber
    Jul 4, 2013
    63
    Sensitively performed and laced with some forceful quotidian grit, the film evades the larger questions behind a scandalous shooting death.
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 166 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 39 out of 46
  2. Negative: 2 out of 46
  1. Jul 12, 2013
    10
    An emotionally draining experience that left the audience in silent, but in a good way. One of the best movies I've seen this year. Ryan Coogler has a true gift in making the audience invest in a character. Michael B. Jordan does a great job. Highly recommend. Full Review »
  2. Jul 20, 2013
    10
    There was not a person in the theater that did not drop a tear. With that being said the film was portrayed well and realistic. It depicts struggles young black men face being a product of environment, social pressures, and wanting to belong. But through all these struggles there was good in Oscar so it touched people deeply. Internalized racism hurts us all because we are usually unaware of it. The lethal force that was used took away a loving father from his little girl. Emotion Packed Movie. Full Review »
  3. Jul 22, 2013
    10
    I still can't get over the powerful acting of this movie, and how the humanity of the film brought me closer to this story more so than I ever could have imagined. This is a film the world needed. Full Review »