Fruitvale Station

Rated 5.0

Writer-director Ryan Coogler's first feature is an auspicious debut, portraying the last day of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), the Hayward man who was shot dead in an altercation with police officers for Bay Area Rapid Transit in Oakland on New Year's Day 2009. The shooting sparked protests, both peaceful and violent. Coogler's movie is a protest, too, but more in sadness than anger. It's that rarest of movies (these days, anyhow): one that's “based on a true story” and actually has the ring of truth (some names are changed for either dramatic or legal reasons). Jordan's performance is muted but earnest and strong, and there's fine work from the supporting ensemble, especially Melonie Diaz as Grant's girlfriend Sophina, Octavia Spencer as his mother, and little Ariana Neal as his 4-year-old daughter.