‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’: A Seriocomic Tale of Loss, Reflection and Rejuvenation
“The Last Black Man in San Francisco” (2019) is the impassioned, seriocomic tale of a young black man named Jimmie (Jimmie Fails) who yearns to repurchase his childhood home—an expansive Victorian house originally built by his grandfather in 1946. The property has sky-rocketed in value due to systematic gentrification, however, making it all-but-impossible for Jimmie to reacquire his family heirloom.
Located in the heart of San Francisco’s Fillmore District, the property is fortuitously vacated by it’s current owners in a familial dispute—inspiring Jimmie and his friend Mont (Jonathan Majors) to take up residence as squatters in order to restore it to previous grandeur. The storyline follows the many complexities that Jimmie and Mont experience in combat with zealous realtors as well as their own neighborhood brethren, culminating in the loss of a childhood compatriot that leaves them both at an enormous loss—unable to comprehend the volatile reality of a city they hold so close to their hearts.
Co-written and directed by Joe Talbot in his feature film debut, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” is an enormously earnest yet slyly comical affair, replete with ardent social commentary and pointed political rumination. Fails and Majors are both major revelations, eschewing convention to fulfill roles of unique characterization and disposition. With remarkable shades of yearning for a bygone age of antiquity, it's unorthodox and intoxicating modern folklore put to film.
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