Director/writer: Ryan Coogler
Stars: Michael B. Jordan, Chad Michael Murray, Kevin Durand, Octavia Spencer, Ahna O’Reilly
Walking into Fruitvale, you probably already know what happens at the end; it’s based, after all, on the very high-profile 2009 shooting of a young African American by a subway police officer in Oakland on New Year’s Eve. Just in case you don’t know the story, director Ryan Coogler shows you the shooting in the first two minutes of the film. It’s a bold move, and it telegraphs his intent—the film is not about building up suspense around what will happen; it’s about showing the last day in the life of this young man, his good and bad choices, and the potential tragically cut short.
The Wire’s Michael B. Jordan is perfectly cast, with his immediate and irresistible charisma. Octavia Spencer is wonderful as his long-suffering mother. If you leave the film with dry eyes, you’re a hell of a lot stronger than me, or than anyone in the Eccles theater the night I saw the film.