The latest film in a growing collection of Bay Area gentrification narratives that includes Barry Jenkins’ Medicine for Melancholy and last year’s Blindspotting, Joe Talbot’s funny, heartfelt, and achingly bittersweet feature tells its story from the perspective of someone who lived it, and who can’t bear to leave their hometown behind.
Jimmie Fails’ grandfather, the self-proclaimed “first black man in San Francisco,” built a beautiful Victorian house for his family in 1946. But the Fails couldn’t afford to keep it. Like so many people in the city, Jimmy was forced to move on before he was ready. With dreams of reclaiming his grandfather’s home, he and his best friend Mont unite on a search for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind. As Jimmie struggles to reconnect with his family and reconstruct the community he longs for, it becomes clear how much his search is entwined in having something that belongs to him — if not a house, then at least an identity. An odyssey populated by skaters, squatters, street preachers, playwrights, and other locals on the margins, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is a poignant story of hometowns and how they’re made and kept alive by the people who love them.
(USA / 2019 / Written and Directed by Joe Talbot)
R / 2 hrs.