Recommendation: 5/5 Stars, SHOWTIME
Plot: “A young man searches for a home in the changing city that seems to have left him behind.” -IMBD
Review: Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco… No major city in the United States can escape the clutches of gentrification. Years before, white people fled to the suburbs. Flying from the inner-city, they took wealth, businesses, and community with them. In their absence, vibrant and multi-cultural communities took hold, put their roots deep in the ground, and began to grow. Soon, white people decided to fly back toward the city center. Costs began to rise, and housing became unaffordable for the people already living there. They found themselves forced further and further away from places they had made their home. “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” attempts to wrestle with this challenge by asking, “Who does a city belong to, if not everyone?”
Jimmie Fails is left to question the meaning of place in a home he has been led to believe his grandfather constructed after World War II. At first, Jimmie’s visits begin innocently enough; painting, cleaning, and yard work to maintain appearances no matter who is currently residing in the home. Then an opportunity presents itself, as the current residents leave the house. Jimmie and his friend (Jonathan Majors) decide to pull their resources and try to buy the home. Sadly, they quickly come face to face with the impossibly expensive San Francisco real estate market. With buying out of the question, they turn to squatting and create a palace all their own.
As Jimmie works to make this his home, he uncovers the truth of its construction via conversations with his family. This truth leaves him paralyzed and without direction. For so long, he believed his grandfather was the first black man to build a house for himself in San Francisco and now that dream is gone for him. As he wrestles with this truth, he arrives back at the house to discover all his belongings on the curb. His grandfather might have not been the first, but for Jimmie, it is beginning to feel like he will be the last.
“The Last Black Man in San Francisco” is my favorite movie of the year, so far. It tells a powerful story of white flight, coming back, and the damage done to a city. It doesn’t drive its point home in an overtly political way. Instead, it does it poetically and through the sheer power of cinema. Without a doubt, the best example of this power is a play that takes place in the home’s attic; a scene that will stay with me for a long time to come. Yet, this is just one scene in a movie that I will never forget.
Be good to each other,
This website exists because of readers and supporters. If what you just read made you smile, please consider supporting the website with a monthly gift. Your support means everything and proves to the world that original content still matters.