Coogler follows Grant (Michael B. Jordan of "The Wire" and "Friday Night Lights") on New Year's Eve in the hours before the shooting. We see a warm-hearted, loving father with a troubled past, moving blindly toward his inevitable and heartbreaking demise.
With understated and moving performances by Jordan and Octavia Spencer as Grant's mother, a film that could have hit the audience over the head with its message, instead draws us into the characters and their community, heightening the tragedy of the film's climax. Coogler grew up in the Bay Area and it's clear that the movie is enriched by his passion and understanding for the city's struggles. (Here's Indiewire's Coogler interview.)
Prepare for a four-hankie movie. I didn't just cry during the film, I ugly cried (think Clare Danes), and judging by the sobs heard throughout the Monday afternoon press screening at the Holiday, I wasn't alone.