[This is a re-post of my review from the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. It has been slightly altered to reflect the new title. Fruitvale Station opens in limited release today.]
Here’s one of the most morbid thoughts you can ever put in your head: will I die today? This thought isn’t to spur you to live each day like it’s your last. It’s a simple observation. Where has life led you to this point, where would you like your life to go, and how does one affect the other? In his debut feature Fruitvale Station, writer-director Ryan Coogler goes into the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, who was infamously shot by BART police officers in Oakland, California on New Year’s Day, 2009. Coogler’s solemn, no-frills direction lets us walk into Oscar’s life, and become absolutely devastated as it heads to its inevitable conclusion. The film’s emotional impact is only lessened by Coogler’s bizarre decision to push a message that doesn’t coincide with his movie’s theme.