Fruitvale Station

Fruitvale Station ★★★★

You know, when I saw Michael B. Jordan in Chronicle last year, I thought he was a pretty competent actor who gave a pretty competent performance. I never would have thought he'd be capable of something like this, though.

Fruitvale Station is a master class in empathy (some might go so far as to call it "manipulation", but I'll try to remain positive here). Here we have a life -- one so unassumingly and quaintly portrayed that we can identify with it, even if we've never lived in a struggling urban environment ourselves. Part of the reason the film works so well is because it doesn't just linger on the tragedy of the matter. Yes, the sorrow of the situation is palpable throughout, and we know from the get-go what Oscar's fate will ultimately be -- but as with every life, there's tenderness and empathy and humor and love to be found even in the midst of one man's darkest day. It is as it was -- a seemingly ordinary day that turned out to be anything but.

Coogler's script and direction are intimate and heartfelt, and this is an enormously impressive debut for such a young talent, but as I mentioned initially, the real talent here is Jordan. As of right now, this is easily the best performance of the year, and future contenders will be hard-pressed to topple Jordan from that title. I'm certainly interested to see what Coogler will do in the future, but I have no doubt in my mind that Jordan will go on to achieve fantastic things -- and this performance marks the very first such achievement.

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