User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 174 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 13 out of 174

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  1. Sep 5, 2014
    7
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This is the south: Mississippi in the late-sixties, an antiquated place where a peaceable black man can be arrested in an empty pool hall while waiting for the 4:05 train heading out to Memphis.Virgil Tibbs, a Philadelphia cop, in Norman Jewison's In the Heat of the Night, stares down a pointed gun held by the timorous, but racist deputy, who never bothers to check the visiting law officer for his I.D. To Sparta's finest, all he sees is a black man, and a black man couldn't possibly have come by the wad of bills from his frisked wallet through honest means. It's obvious to Sam that the dark suspect had robbed and murdered Mr. Colbert, a steel magnate, found dead on a badly paved road while on his nightly patrol of the small town's business district. This is Sparta: the Civil Rights Act of 1964 may be in effect, but only begrudgingly so, as when Mr. Endicott, a cotton plantation owner, under suspicion of murder, tells Tibbs, "There was a time when I could have had you shot," after the black man returns his slap. Have things really changed? This is San Francisco. Fifty years after LBJ signed the bill first proposed by President Kennedy, a black man can still be shot with little, if any, repercussions for the accused. Even now, to a man of the law, Virgil Tibbs is just another n*****. Like Micah says, in Medicine for Melancholy, "Me, I'm a black man. That's how I see the world and that's how the world sees me." The filmmaker, however, unintentional or not, suggests that Micah, a San Francisco native, and his one-night stand, Angela, his adversarial addressee on race matters, go unharmed through the gentrified city, because they embrace the idea of integration, because they are de facto white; a transformation undergone, independent of their predisposed ethnography, through dating and cultural choices. "Everything about being indie is tied to not being black," complains Micah. When the fleeting couple go clubbing, they dance to the whitest collegiate rock possible. No rhythm and blues; no jazz; no hip-hop. But like it or not, despite Micah's protestations against his interpellation into a predominantly white lifestyle, he is, no doubt about it, the finished product of a culturally disparate upbringing, in which no visit to a black history museum can undo. Theoretically, since Micah's apparel, and moreover, the mellow vibe he puts across suggests less gangsta than yuppie, this reconstructed black man increases his chances of being overlooked by the same BART officers at Fruitvale Station who order the proverbial "thug" off the train. Angela wouldn't give Oscar Grant the time of day. He doesn't share her aesthetic sense and sophistication. Micah's exposure to the upper-middle class is undeniable, as evidenced by his evocation of the Mr. Rogers' persona(in which he sings the theme song on her acoustic guitar), and not Mr. Robinson. the parodic character that Eddie Murphy performed on SNL. Angela doesn't want to live in that neighborhood, a ghetto. Black Nationalism, the agitprop position that Micah is closer to undertaking with every passing day, ends up killing Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing, when the boom box-toting teenager brings the Nation of Islam into Sal's Pizzeria, just before the cops arrive at the Bedford-Stuy eatery to instigate a riot with a disproportionate show of force. But Oscar Grant, albeit a member of Palma Ceia, who trafficks in drugs; a felon with a hair-trigger temper, no longer wants to fight the power, no sooner would work forty hours a week at the supermarket if his former boss rehired him. Whereas Radio Raheem was a segregationist, Oscar, like Micah, more than likely, could probably have lived in San Francisco without incident, as suggested by his easy way with white people, like the heart-to-heart talk he has with a web designer about the future, while they wait outside a store for their women to return from the bathroom. Arguably, the filmmaker references Medicine for Melancholy, when Oscar, prior to his firework spectatorship with Sophina in SF, fills the mirror with nine-year-old Tatiana, using his finger as a toothbrush, just like Micah at the outset of the 2008 film, in which he and Angela employ the same method of oral hygiene. During that fateful night Oscar Grant was shot, BART passengers acted as guerrilla filmmakers, shooting the incident with their phones. One of these immediate documentarians, Katie, had previously met Oscar at the fish counter and got to see the human side of this drug dealer, an ex-con. The footage she shoots, the film within the film, becomes all the more tragic, because her narrative has the added benefit of a backstory that the other bystanders' films lack. To them, it's a real life Colors(the 1988 film that sees gangbangers as monsters); a drama, but through Katie's lens, from her camera eye, she doesn't see just an unarmed black man, but a human being with a Grandma Bonnie; a tragedy. Expand
  2. Sep 2, 2014
    6
    Fruitvale Station represents much of the evils in the world today. Ryan Coogler reveals his promise as a first-rate writer/director. The film is bold and emotionally draining--more than I'd like it to be, unfortunately.
  3. Jul 22, 2014
    9
    In its short run time, 'Fruitvale Station' captures the very essence of Oscar and the rich chaos of his life with an overwhelmingly authenticity. The quasi dramatic irony of his impending doom makes his story all the more tragic and hard to watch. An important film which demonstrates a societal problem which many incorrectly assume is no longer relevant
  4. Jul 1, 2014
    8
    Although I was excited to see this movie, I didn’t get around to watching it until now. The film follows the true story of Oscar Grant leading up to the tragic events of New Year’s Eve 2009. At first the film’s setup seemed a little basic. I had to remind myself that this was a true story and the filmmakers were shooting for a very realistic portrayal of Oscar Grant’s life. To about the forty minute mark this movie moved pretty slow but never once became boring. In my opinion this is one of the most important aspects in film and if makers can keep you intrigued while capturing realness then you know they did it right. The acting was down to earth, gritty and the cast made the movie feel real. The cinematography was personal and made me feel like I was right there. This was one of the heaver films I have seen and it really hit me. I have to admit I teared up in the last twenty-five minutes. I can’t really bring forth anything wrong with this movie, besides the fact it was slow moving in the start but that was all justified in the end. Fruitvale Station is a spectacular film and I highly recommend it, just prepare yourself for some pretty intense moments. Expand
  5. May 3, 2014
    3
    It tells a very moving story about the last hours of a living man in an attempt to reach a wide audience. It's a shame it had to pass up the ethical approach for a cliched template that fails to defend the victim for these actions.
  6. Apr 2, 2014
    7
    amazing true story that will punch you in the gut and put you in the emotional state of frustration that these people are in. This movie has a 'real' feel to it and really puts you at the event. If you're not sure about watching it, just do it, you won't be dissapointed!

    Just my opinion
  7. Mar 21, 2014
    10
    Sincerely powerful, it reminded me of John Singleton’s Boyz N The Hood. These films are both earnest, striking and magnificent directorial debuts. Directed by Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station is highly ambitious, it is for the hardened hearts and Coogler has articulated his deep-rooted connection with the story flawlessly. The film is based on the real-life tragic shooting that happened at Fruitvale Station on the New Year’s Eve of 2009. This irrefutable piece of reality haunts the film and makes it duly hard to watch. Yet, you are transfixed.

    Oscar Grant, a 22 year-old man with lots of feelings, cares for many people and many people care for him. We spend New Years Eve with Oscar as he goes about his daily routine, struggling and searching over the various obstacles that many working-class people face. This is the side of the story that Coogler has decided to tell. SPOLIER. It is the day leading up to the death of young Oscar Grant.

    We sample Oscar’s daily life; we get caught up in his agitated world. Michael B. Jordan gives a brilliant performance as Oscar, and understands the prejudice history that exists within the borders of the Bay Hill area. Nonetheless he gets on with daily life and is determined to make a difference. He doesn’t necessarily care about what others think of him, he has the “don’t give a **** attitude”, but this doesn’t make him a thug. It is the territory of young and black cinema, as was the term coined for the work of Spike Lee. It is promising that Coogler will have more heartfelt stories to tell that will contribute the past thirty years call for social justice in media, popular culture and sadly life.

    Oscar is clearly troubled but events in his life. He wishes to share his inner burdens with others, he has a lot of close mates, but it is his girlfriend (Melonie Diaz) and mother (Octavia Spencer) who come through as most compassionate. Despite past hiccups, the family gets together and celebrates New Year’s Eve without controversy and with great empathy, as it is also Oscar’s mother’s birthday. The family is “lifted up” by God, as spoken by the radiant mother. It is soul-destroying when she blames the tragedy on herself. She only wanted her “baby” to do what would seemingly be safest: catching the BART train to town, rather than drink driving.

    The cinematography is closing in, the train is entering Fruitvale Station, and my heart is already pounding. The scenes in which the incident takes place are harrowing and expertly crafted. It is mayhem and for no alleged reason; this is the lunacy of the incident. I’ve never quite felt so strung and wounded by the cinema.

    This film deserves mass attention and should be honored for its courage.
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  8. Mar 20, 2014
    9
    Powerful, sad and shocking true story. Should have been nominated for an Oscar as it was far better than pretty much all the nominated films. A must watch!
  9. Feb 22, 2014
    6
    this is an important film, but, sadly, not a great one. this story, in my mind, accurately reflects the current value society places on a black life vs. a white one, which will make it distasteful to some. i'm not a fan of this whole hand held camera, home made movie effect, and it doesn't really work here, but the talent of the lead male actor is evident & a treat to behold. my relatively low score reflects the lack of craftsmanship with which the film is made, and the few insights it provides. it does, however, serve to remind us of the tragedy of the loss of even 1 life needlessly, which seems to happen all too often amidst the poor. Expand
  10. Feb 9, 2014
    10
    I wish I could give this an 11 - even that would be modest praise. That a first-time director could put together this degree of acting, writing, cinematography, and editing is unbelievable.
  11. Lyn
    Jan 28, 2014
    7
    Now I know I was right to question Jennifer Lawrence's supporting actress nomination this year ... it should have gone to Octavia Spencer for this film! Spencer as the lead character's mother is tough, devout, believable; she certainly contributes to the tears you'll shed at the end. Michael B. Jordan does a good job as the winsome Oscar, and you can't help but root for him and hate what happened to him. My misgivings about the film center on the rather manipulative devices that come up repeatedly and that (as far as I know) don't always reflect the facts of the case. Still -- worth seeing. Expand
  12. Jan 16, 2014
    10
    Emotional, powerful, griping…these are just some of the words that sum up “Fruitvale Station.” In his first feature length film, director Ryan Coogler really nailed the emotion the story needed and Michael B. Jordan’s performance is incredible. Both these elements work so well together that it makes the film hit home and makes the viewer remember that Oscar Grant, the victim in this film and true story it’s based off of, is more than just a headline attached to an article or a point of argument for a Facebook debate but, rather, was a person with hopes, dreams, and people who cared for him. Expand
  13. Jan 1, 2014
    7
    Fruitvale Station is indeed a sad film, and an important one, in the parts that matter. I just don't understand why the whole day was shown, I guess all they wanted to prove is that he was a good person? I'm not sure, but I still found it an interesting and emotional movie, for some.
  14. Dec 30, 2013
    9
    The simple truth speaks.
    Breakout hit from first time filmmaker Ryan Coogler uses the truth of a story to make this excellent, yet simple film. It is the portrait of a kid who is set on turning his life around, but never gets the chance. It all ends in tragedy.
  15. Dec 28, 2013
    5
    Not sure what I'm missing here. I've been reading all of these stellar reviews for MJ's acting for months, but I was pretty underwhelmed. Relatively nice guy goes through a pretty normal day and then gets shot. Ok. We see that he loves his daughter and went to jail. Ok. That's about it for character development and there is not a single scene where I thought, "Wow, that guy is a great actor!" I just see the guy from Parenthood saying "Bruh" a lot, which has to be the most annoying slang EVER. A few nice scenes throughout, but overall...meh. Expand
  16. Dec 26, 2013
    5
    When a movie is less than and hour and a half, you would think it could be gripping the entire time, but it had too many moments of boring scenes. It shows you what happens, but doesn't go into what the point of the movie is. The movie could have been much better with a different director.
  17. Dec 22, 2013
    9
    Fruitvale Station is one of the most emotionally draining films I've seen in a while. Michael B. Jordan gives a fabulous performance showing the highs and lows of Oscar Grants unfortunately short life. A
  18. Dec 21, 2013
    9
    Fruitvale Station ratches up a sense of dread and hopelessness to create an emotionally draining experience for viewers. It is a sure showcase for actor Michael B. Jordan and first time director Ryan Coogler due to their impressive work.
  19. Dec 19, 2013
    9
    The natural performances of the cast, especially the stellar Michael B. Jordan, contribute greatly to the beauty of this movie. This heartbreaking movie about a troubled, yet cheerful, man who only wanted to get his life on track and live in peace. And because of past failures, outside pressure, and pure bad luck, fails to see that day become a reality. Totally devastating, but highly recommended.
  20. Dec 18, 2013
    7
    Fruitvale Station is a decent movie because it doesn't dig deep into the political side of things for the most part but instead gives a more personal story of the man Oscar. The movie stays in cruise control until the dramatic ending.
  21. Dec 16, 2013
    7
    With prominent cases of violence due to racial profiling still hitting the headlines in America, the release of 'Fruivale Station' feels like a fitting entry in this impressive year of films.It tells the true life story of Oscar Grant III and the day leading up to his demise at the hands of police officers in the titular train station. The moments leading up to this fateful event were morally and emotionally resonant for the man; and along the way we learn about not only the love he has for his family and friends; but also the demons of his past. A hearty round of applause must be given to Michael B. Jordan for bringing both grit and soul, to a character that could easily be seen as being overly sanctimonious. A bit too considerate on the part of director, Ryan Coogler; whose direction may not have been very refined. However, his vision was clear and he does the job well. What job might I ask... telling an emotionally powerful story, about an issue vital to all generations. Expand
  22. Nov 24, 2013
    7
    In an American film industry of recycled ideas, sequels and nostalgic masturbation over things men liked as kids [comic book movies, toy movies, etc], I have to give this a 7 for its importance, its freshness and its premise of looking at the man's life from several angles in 20-24 hours.
    Where I have to lower it to 7: some of the acting is mediocre at best, but that may very well stem
    from the main problem. That problem is the writing, which is sophomorically ironic in how it portrays everything the main character does that day. Everything is seen through a lens of "but he dies later!" in a forced or melodramatic way, such that it's hard to see the story as a true portrait.
    This major flaw aside, the movie's good and if you're interested in the subject matter, go see it. I'm looking forward to Coogler's next feature.
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  23. Sep 24, 2013
    6
    Let me get this out of the way immediately. This isn't a bad film. It's not. The acting is fine, and Michael B.Jordan's performance is great. The viewer can't help but feel sympathy towards the character of Oscar Grant. The problem with the film is that it is extremely manipulative and it strains to evoke as much emotions from the viewer in the cheapest ways possible. The movie just doesn't come off as "real", and instead ends up feeling like "Oscar Bait". It just seems that the director has to spoon-feed the viewer how they're supposed to feel. I still liked the film overall and thought some parts were damn good. My rating: 6.4/10 Expand
  24. Aug 21, 2013
    8
    Oscar Grant (played by Michael B. Jordan) is a young 22 year old Black man, just recently out of jail for dealing in drugs, and he is trying to make a better life for his daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal) who he loves unconditionally, starting a life with her mother Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and regaining his mother’s (Octavia Spencer) respect though he has never lost her love.

    We follow
    Oscar on New Year’s Eve December 31, 2008, and see the various aspects of this man from caring for an animal that is hit by a car to not standing down to an ex-con he had problems with in jail. Like most men at that age he makes some mistakes like telling an ex-employer off and a few hours later helping people he doesn’t know. The love that he has for his daughter and the sweet human being he can be comes out with every scene with her.

    “Fruitvale Station” is based on a true story of a Black man being shot by a white officer in the Bay area of San Francisco and some bad decisions made that New Year’s Eve. How many people outside of that area remember the story or even the name of Oscar Grant? Yes the same question could be asked about 3-4 years from now of how many people, outside of Florida, will remember the name Trayvon Martin.

    Oscar was shot in the early morning hours of the new year by a white policeman who claimed he thought he was using his taser when he shot Oscar in the back. The scene is shown opening the movie as many phones recorded the whole event. What may not be known, or remembered, is what happened afterwards and that is told before the end credits are shown. The final scene will bring tears to your eyes unless you have no feelings left when it comes to the waste of a young man’s life and a daughter without a father.

    This is the movie debut of writer/director Ryan Coogler and except for a few missteps, which could be a generational difference such as when he used music or the hand held camera, but he looks at what happened on the subway station with a cold eye, and compassion, working together, so you know he is not manipulating the viewer and when they gasp it is from the heart.

    Michael B. Jordan gives an award winning performance as does Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz and the young Ariana Neal. This is a good film but just misses being a must see one due to the opening scenes which takes away from the impact.
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  25. Aug 20, 2013
    9
    Taking a look back in the final days of one man is hard to do. I don't know how this movie did it, but it more than succeeded. It's an incredible story on friends, enemies and choices one will make. Overall, it's a powerful movie. Be sure to check out my YouTube channel "TheMovieManLife" for all things movies.
  26. Aug 18, 2013
    8
    Fruitvale Station is an attempt to shed light on the story behind the headlines. Seen through the prism of what happened, Grant can't help but take on a somewhat saintly aura. Whether that's more or less than the truth may be beside the point. What rings clearest is the notion of a life snuffed out with a single shot.
  27. Aug 12, 2013
    5
    The movie is a story about the last day of life of Oscar Grant, a 22-year old small criminal in Bay Area who was shot and killed by a police officer on January 1, 2009. The director of the movie is Ryan Coogler, and this is his first big film. The movie is done extremely well: casting, performing, directing, cinematography. It is no wonder that the movie already won several film festival prizes (Sundance and Cannes among them).

    Even though movie critics love the film, the director was famously accused of the fact manipulation. If you state that the movie is after real events, if you show photographs of real people, you cannot re-invent the truth. In the movie Oscar is shown as an extremely likable, friendly guy. There are some scenes there that never happened, and some important facts omitted. This makes this docu-drama questionable. But if ignore the facts, the movie is must see…
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  28. Aug 11, 2013
    9
    The movie is short and you can tell the budget for this movie was small. However, this was a great tribute to Oscar Grant. Movies like this can make a difference in our society. The actors perform very well and brings the audience into the drama and painful situation of being a black poor male in Oakland.
  29. Aug 10, 2013
    4
    If this movie purported itself as a fictional story, I might give it a 9 or 10. It has incredible acting from the entire cast. Michael B. Jordan is a guaranteed star in the making (if he's not one already). The problem is that the filmmaker Ryan Coogler chose to make this about a true story and when you do that, your movie also has to be judged on whether it is an accurate reflection of said story. He doesn't shy away from the truth about Grant's troubled past, which is probably why so many unfamiliar with the case are willing to trust that he is not manipulating their emotions with omissions and fabrications. That said, I would expect professional reviewers to do a better job of questioning movies like this. While I am very sympathetic to its message, I think movies like this do a disservice to the cause if they are not deeply rooted in the truth. Expand
  30. Aug 7, 2013
    10
    To put this in perspective I am a 19 year old pretty normal teenage boy. I don't cry at movies I mean who does that? Me an my friend had to go watch wolverine right after this movie just to get it out of our system. The movie is really slow and not much happens and you think it's boring until you realize that you just start relating to the main character because of how normal he is. And by the end of the movie you like him, you think he's a pretty decent guy who just had some bad things happen to him. I have never felt so sad after a movie ended. I really really felt it and I wanted to just cry. I have never been in a theater where everyone looked so sad.

    Bravo.
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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: 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.