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Review: The Last Black Man In San Francisco (15)

Written by Film

We know home is where the heart is, and we feel it in the beating hearts of the cities that brought us up. This is the affectionate tone which runs through this film as co-writer and protagonist Jimmie Fails searches for belonging in his home city, San Francisco.

The city itself becomes a character, playing the role of that friend who has ‘moved on’ to better things leaving people like Jimmie in the dust. He subsequently pours his soul into his Grandfather’s house; driven by nostalgia, renovating it and consequently disturbing the current couple who are still residents of the house. Jimmie’s passion for the stunning 1800’s house that stands tall upon the hills of San Francisco is a relationship like that of father and son.

Conversations between characters flow seamlessly

Themes of gentrification run through the film and are handled well due to the semi-autobiographical nature of the script. Conversations between characters flow seamlessly leaving you truly believing and hanging onto every word said. A bold soundtrack plays through the film, adding music to the almost choreographed filming of San Francisco, tying together the landscape we paint in our minds.

Talbot’s love of the city could not have been portrayed better.

As a feature length directorial debut from Joe Talbot there were minor errors such as continuity however I found these endearing not disruptive; adding to the sense that both the main character and director were finding their feet. The talent of director Joe Talbot was really seen in the shooting of San Francisco giving the city a romanticism that is usually only reserved for New York; Talbot’s love of the city could not have been portrayed better.

The combination of beautiful filming, accompanying music and dialogue results in a striking, tender and compelling fairy-tale story of a man searching for identity in a gentrified San Francisco that he feels has left him behind.

Rating: 4/5

Last modified: 7th November 2019

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