The Last Black Man In San Francisco is an exquisite deep dive into the complicated nature of one’s identity. Does a neighboorhood define who you are? Can a house represent your legacy? Does inevitability of change erase all of this? Jimmie Fails and Joe Talbot have crafted a narrative weaved within these questions capturing the raw emotion which stems from the fear of losing who you are. If your past is seemingly erased, does it mean you are as well?
The film centers around Jimmie’s desire to reclaim his grandfather’s old Victorian home. He seeks the home because Jimmie feels it is part of who his past. However, he has to face the realization that times of changed and that neighboorhood is vastly different. While his friend Mont (Jonathan Majors) attempts to aid him on this quest, deep down it seems foolish to pine for something that isn’t his. In an environment which has become gentrified, Jimmie views this as a last stand (to reclaim his heritage).
Emile Mosseri’s score is a melodic love letter which is equal parts grand and hypnotic. It allows audience members to begin romanticizing Jimmie’s hometown. Adam Newport-Berra’s cinematography is dripping with beauty and splendor. Very few releases have been able to take simplicity and make it look so lovely. It gave me a feeling of what it might be like to see the city through Jimmie’s eyes.
Overall, The Last Black Man In San Francisco is one of the finest releases of 2019. The film is bursting with beauty while profoundly challenging audience members to take stock in what matters most.