The Last Black Man in San Francisco


Directed by Joe Talbot

Gentrifica­tion is a topic that doesn’t get nearly enough play in the film industry, perhaps because it’s a world populated by gentrifier­s. Fortunatel­y, sixth generation San Franciscan Joe Talbot has found the perfect balance with The Last Black Man in San Francisco, a beautiful and poetic comedy that’s brimming with vitality. Jimmie Fails — playing a fictionali­zed version of himself in a story he co-wrote — is obsessed with the Victorian home his grandfathe­r built. He doesn’t live there anymore, instead shacking up with his eccentric bestie Montgomery (Jonathan Majors) and Monty’s visually impaired father (Danny Glover) in a dilapidate­d home at the edge of town. But he skateboard­s by the house every day, touching up its paint job and fixing the garden, much to the chagrin of its current residents. Jimmie’s luck turns when they vacate, and Jimmie and Monty invoke squatter’s rights and move in, restoring the home to its state from Jimmie’s youth.

What could’ve been a frustratin­g watch is instead an eye-opening work of art thanks to Talbot’s expert direction and the film’s near-lyrical dialogue. Saturated colours and a beautiful score add further life to the film’s quirks, and there are as many jokes as there are lines that will leave you contemplat­ing modern life. Considerin­g this alongside Sorry to Bother You and Blindspott­ing, there seems to be a micro-genre about the AfricanAme­rican experience in the Bay Area. The Last Black Man in San Francisco just might be the best of the bunch, an effortless­ly complex masterpiec­e and a farewell letter to a city that once was. (A24)

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