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'Fruitvale Station' belongs on must-see lists

The potent story of a transit cop in Oakland killing a young man is a striking debut for the film's director.

August 07, 2013
  • Michael B. Jordan stars in "Fruitvale Station."
Michael B. Jordan stars in "Fruitvale Station." (Rachel Morrison )

If "Fruitvale Station" is not yet on your must-see list, it should be. This emotionally potent, true story of the Bay-Area killing of a young African American man is a striking debut for writer-director Ryan Coogler. It is also a game-changer for Michael B. Jordan, who plays 22-year-old Oscar Grant with such nuanced complexity that there is already awards talk. Much has been written — and litigated — about who is responsible for those fateful final minutes of 2008 when a transit cop shot Grant at Oakland's Fruitvale subway station. Coogler chooses instead to keep focus primarily on Oscar's life, letting us get to know him. The director doesn't soft-pedal Oscar's flaws: his temper, prison time, job struggles. But the portrait also reveals a devoted father, an intelligent, funny and fundamentally kind man. Someone with a future needlessly cut short. It is too easy to forget the Oscar Grants of the world. Coogler is eloquent in expressing and assessing his loss. REVIEW: 'Fruitvale Station' an incendiary portrait of a life cut short

Betsy Sharkey

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