This powerful film about identity, friendship and finding one's place in the world features one of the best supporting performances of the year thus far...and is worth checking out, despite its painfully slow start and meandering style.
"The Last Black Man in San Francisco" is a story about being left behind and even forgotten. It's directed by a guy, Joe Talbot, who with this effort, makes sure that he never will be.
Jimmie Fails (who also co-wrote) stars as a character named Jimmie Fails, a man who is trying desperately to reclaim his childhood home, a historic inner-city house that was supposedly built by his grandfather. At Jimmie's side at all times is his best friend, Montgomery (Jonathan Majors), as they roll (literally, on skateboards) through the streets of San Francisco trying to find meaning and clinging to their past. Jimmie appears and does minor repairs to the home and gives the window sills a fresh coat of paint, even though he isn't the legal tenant. When the home becomes vacant following a dispute, Jimmie even goes so far as to move his belongings back into the home, despite the fact that it is not his, and that he would never be able to afford its asking price.
Joe Talbot directs this personal tale like a man who has never seen another movie in his life. The result is breathtakingly fresh at times, and equally frustrating at others. The movie moves along at a snails pace, setting a mostly dreamy and poetic mood through its first half. Even still, Talbot seems to have a very specific vision of how he wants this movie to look and feel. His directing style seems to be as subtle as a whisper, more interested in artistic merit than in storytelling. Plot-wise, things do begin to come together in the second half, but about an hour or so into the movie, you may be asking yourself just what the heck it is you're watching.
But stick with it. The characters that are encountered along the way, and the relationships we see form, become increasingly intriguing. Jimmie Fields gives a fantastic performance, but it's his best friend, played by Jonathan Majors, who turns in an absolutely phenomenal one. much like writer/director Joe Talbot, Majors will hopefully be remembered as one of the year's biggest breakthroughs.
"The Last Black Man in San Francisco" deserves praise for its uniqueness, but as a complete film it feels a bit lacking, especially at 2 hours long. But the ideas presented and the imagery created - as well as the performances given - make this movie one that will stick with you long after viewing.
Run Time: 2 hours.
Starring: Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Danny Glover, Tichina Arnold, Mike Epps, Rob Morgan, Thora Birch, Finn Wittrock.
Written and Directed by Joe Talbot (feature-film debut).
"The Last Black Man in San Francisco" opens in limited-release on Friday, June 21st, 2019.
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