The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Jimmie Fails stars as Jimmie Fails and Jonathan Majors as Montgomery Allen in THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO, an A24 release. Photo Credit: David Moir/A24

The Last Black Man in San Francisco might suffer at times with the film’s pacing but it is otherwise a beautiful ode to the Bay Area.

Jimmie Fails (Jimmie Fails) has a dream.  This dream is to take back what rightfully belongs to his family:  A Victorian home in San Francisco.  Jimmy’s grandfather is said to have built it himself in the 1940s.  Even though a family currently resides in the house, this doesn’t stop Jimmie and Mont (Jonathan Majors) from providing upkeep.  They have to be extra careful though in performing maintenance when the residents aren’t home.  You know how people can be!

All isn’t what it may seem for Jimmie.  This is a man who is somewhat lost in a city that’s moving too quickly.  If it weren’t for the use of social media during the film, it would be easy to set the film in the distant future.  The film tends to focus in limited areas of San Francisco but manages to take advantage of visuals in the city.  It would be hard to set a film in the Bay Area and not take advantage of what the city has to offer.

Joe Talbot and Rob Richert’s screenplay lends life to the city by way of the people we meet on the street.  While Jimmie searches for his purpose, Mont is busy with creating art.  In particular, he’s been busy writing a play.  Not surprisingly, the play happens to be The Last Black Man in San Francisco.  More importantly, there are neighborhoods in San Francisco that are getting some love on screen.  It may be rare but the film opts to show San Francisco neighborhoods such as Fillmore and Hunter’s Point.  Fillmore, in particular, is so personal for Jimmy.

Jimmie is playing a character who isn’t too far from his own life.  They say to write what you know.  Fails may be the lead actor but this film feels as if it’s every bit his story, too.  After all, he grew up in the Fillmore house.  This house is what kept is family together.  Without the house, relationships would only fall apart.  This should certainly come as no surprise.  There has to be something to keep a family connected.  In this beautifully directed film from Joe Talbot, the house is what connects everyone.  Speaking of Talbot, I’m sure that we’ll certainly be hearing his name for some time to come.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco may be one of the strangest love stories this year but it’s so beautiful.

DIRECTOR:  Joe Talbot
SCREENWRITERS:  Joe Talbot & Rob Richert
CAST:  Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Rob Morgan, Tichina Arnold, and Danny Glover

A24 opens The Last Black Man in San Francisco in theaters on June 7, 2019. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.