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Fruitvale Station Review

Movies.com Critics

3.5

Dave White Profile

Terribly timely Read full review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0
    85

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Michael B. Jordan is superbly multi-dimensional as Grant.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Fruitvale Station is great political filmmaking because it's great filmmaking, period.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    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.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    Fruitvale Station works because Coogler and his leading man present a many-sided protagonist, neither saint nor unalloyed sinner.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    Variety Geoff Berkshire

    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.

    Read Full Review

  • 80

    out of 100

    Village Voice Stephanie Zacharek

    Fruitvale Station is intimate in the best way, thanks largely to Jordan's deft, responsive performance.

    Read Full Review

  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    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.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Fruitvale Station reviews at Metacritic.com

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 16 & under

Powerful, mature drama based on tragic-real life shooting.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Fruitvale Station is a drama based on the true story of a controversial shooting that happened on New Year's Day 2009; the movie takes place over the 24 hours leading up to the incident. Violence is an issue during the shooting sequence; the actual footage is shown, as well as the fictional re-creation. And language is very strong, with many uses of the "N" word, "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch." There's some kissing and sensuality and some drinking and smoking. The main character, Oscar Grant, is depicted as a complex person. He's a drug dealer who picks up a huge bag of pot to sell, but he later decides not to go through with it. He has a history of cheating on his girlfriend, but he's also presented as a good person who loves his family and is trying hard to straighten out. The movie is highly acclaimed, picking up major awards at the Cannes and Sundance film festivals.

  • Families can talk about Fruitvale Station's violence. How is it different from the violence in other movies? Does the fact that the movie is based on a true story affect the impact of the violence?
  • Oscar is troubled and makes some mistakes. Does this make you like him any less? Why or why not? How do you feel about the movie's portrayal of the cops? Did you hate them? Feel sorry for them? Are they stereotypes? Do they deserve to have their story told?
  • How do you feel about the inclusion of the footage of the real incident? Why is this footage so powerful? How did you react to it?
  • What's the difference between "based on a true story" and an actual true story? Does it matter whether everything in this movie actually happened? How could you find out which parts may have been fictionalized?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: This movie aims to put a human face on a brutal victim of violence and inspire both empathy and tolerance. The movie seems to say that each person has a complex inner life, despite our quick judgments, pro or con.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Oscar is human. He has his troubles (he's been to prison, worked as a drug dealer, and cheats on his girlfriend), but he's also shown helping people and thinking of others. These positive vibes even rub off on others in some scenes. On the other hand, the movie doesn't reserve the same treatment for the cops. We don't know who they are, other than evil and racist.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Life-altering violence based on real events, starting with actual footage of the BART shooting on January 1, 2009. The climax of the movie re-creates this event, with much shouting, rage, and panic. Blood is shown. Hospital scenes are shown, with some blood. The prelude to the shooting is a near-fight on a BART train, with pushing and threats. There's also a flashback to Oscar in prison, where another inmate picks a fight with him. A dog is hit by a car (off screen) and is shown (from a distance) dead and bleeding in the street.

  • sex false3

    Sex: No nudity, but there are some sexual situations and innuendo. Oscar is seen kissing and touching his girlfriend in familiar ways. Later, he sends a text to another partner (an affair), looking for a "hook up" that never happens. Oscar is seen during a strip search in prison (he's naked, but nothing sensitive is shown). Opposite- and same-sex couples kiss on New Year's Eve.

  • language false4

    Language: Language is very strong and includes the "N" word, plus "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "bitch," "ass," "hell" (or, rather, "hella"), "oh my God," and "piss."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Actual BART trains are used in the film. Chuck E. Cheese is mentioned in passing.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The main character is a drug dealer, though he spends the movie trying to go straight. When he loses his legitimate job in a grocery store, he picks up a huge bag of pot to sell. There's some various drug dealing-type activity and slang (such as "selling trees" and "blowing trees"). Later, he changes his mind and dumps it in the bay. He's shown smoking a brown cigarette in an early scene, though it's not clear whether it's pot or tobacco. Some smoking and drinking is shown during the New Year's Eve sequence.

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