In this semi-autobiographical story, Jimmie (Jimmie Fails) and his friend Mont (Jonathan Majors) live with the latter’s Grandpa Allen (Danny Glover) and spend their days wandering around the San Francisco Bay Area. The two often visit a classic Victorian house that Jimmie grew up in which is in the city's Fillmore District and is occupied by an older married couple. One day, Jimmie seizes an opportunity to make the home his own again.
‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’ is truly a gem, one of those rare movies that takes your breath away and leaves you with a massive lump in your throat which baffles comprehension. Perhaps it’s down to the beautiful cinematography from Adam Newport-Berra (‘Barry’) or perhaps it’s the remarkable performances by Jonathon Majors (‘Captive State’, ‘Hostiles’) and Jimmie Fails (for his big screen debut, he wrote the script with director Joe Talbot, also a first timer, based roughly on Fails’ life). For this reviewer, it was the story of home ownership that resonated, and one supposes many other viewers will find it as poignant.
‘The Last Black Man in San Francisco’ is one of those films you’re best going into knowing as little as possible, which is likely why the trailer for it is more montage than narrative. It’s a movie you need to experience. Be warned though, it’s a slow burner, and not a whole lot happens in its 2 hour running time, but every shot is so immaculately composed and every emotion so genuinely felt that you’re completely sucked in and irresistibly moved.
It offers a touching story of friendship and incisive reflection on what it means to find your sense of place. Simultaneously, it holds a shattering mirror up to present day urbanity and the lives you ignore in your surroundings on a daily basis. That song ‘San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)’ is sung so elegantly by Mike Marshall (also the voice in the chorus for Luniz’s “I Got 5 On It,” featured in ‘Us’); and the score from Emile Mosseri (another phenomenal big screen debut, proving Hollywood absolutely needs to take more risks on new talent) haunts you well after the credits.