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The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

In UK cinemas October 2019

Jonathan Majors & Jimmie Fails in Joe Talbot's The  Last Black Man in San Francisco
Jonathan Majors & Jimmie Fails in Joe Talbot's The Last Black Man in San Francisco

Director: Joe Talbot

Cast: Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors

Country: USA 2019

Running time: 120 mins

Directed by Joe Talbot, this is an off-centre comedy about a disenfranchised guy called Jimmie (Jimmie Fails) intent on renovating his grandfather’s former townhouse in San Francisco with his loyal buddy Mont (Jonathan Majors). Both are a couple of unassuming, creative misfits who come from another part of town - a rubble strewn wasteland on the wrong side of the tracks dominated by a gang of “bros”. Jimmie and Mont’s aspirations lie in the gentrified part of town where their family once lived. Now inhabited by an elderly white couple, Jimmie insists on repairing the old property despite their objections. Aided and abetted by Mont, he takes up residence illegally when, all of a sudden, the owners are forced to leave. And so, the elaborate refurbishment begins until it all comes, metaphorically, crashing down.

The Last Black Man in San Francisco is full of hilarious absurdities and observations. There’s a notable detachment between Jimmie and his mother when they meet unexpectedly on a bus after decades of separation and exchange embarrassed pleasantries and false promises to catch up. In contrast, Mont nestles up to his blind father (Danny Glover) whilst he “watches” classic movies.

Bizarre characters crisscross the movie. The comparation of this pensive, platonic couple with the gang in their hood provides writing material for Mont’s play. Mont watches them with curiosity, scribbling into his notebook and later practising their moves and speech, mimicking the homophobic expletives and violent threats.

It is also a movie with serious pulse – namely loss and change. The loss of what was once a progressive and beatnik city now changed into something commercial and out of reach, courses through the veins of the film.


(First Reviewed, First Feature Competition, London Film Festival October 2019)


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