Gritty realism captured in true Fruitvale tragedy

Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant and Ariana Neal as Tatiana in 'Fruitvale Station'. PA Photo/Image courtesy of BFI/Rachel Morrison

Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant and Ariana Neal as Tatiana in 'Fruitvale Station'. PA Photo/Image courtesy of BFI/Rachel Morrison

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At approximately 9.15 a.m. on January 1, 2009, 22-year-old Oscar Grant III died on the operating table of Highland Hospital in Oakland, California.

Several hours earlier, the young black man and his friends were detained by police at Fruitvale Station on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system that serves San Francisco.

‘Fruitvale Station’ dramatises the final 24 hours in the life of Grant (Michael B Jordan), recounted in chronological order except for a single emotionally devastating flashback in which the young man recalls a visit from his mother Wanda (Octavia Spencer) to prison to hammer home the damage he is doing to his daughter.

Like the train, Cooger’s film has a relentless sense of momentum and won’t be deviated from its tragic course, no matter how hard we will it.

Jordan is terrific in the lead role - charming and volatile, cocksure yet desperately unsure of the future and Oscar winner Spencer is mesmerising, staring at her boy’s lifeless body and sobbing: “I told him to catch the BART. I didn’t know they were gonna hurt him.” The script speaks from the heart and touches and rends ours with every word.