The Last Black Man in San Francisco Parent Guide
Beautifully shot, well acted, this film gives a complex issue a personal touch and a sense of immediacy.
Parent Movie Review
Jimmie Fails (played by himself) has been working on a house for years; maintaining the garden, repainting the trim, and generally keeping the outside of the home looking presentable. The problem? It’s not his house. Jimmie’s grandfather build the house with his own two hands in 1946 and Jimmie feels that the current owners are allowing it to fall into disrepair. When they are forced to move out, and eventually put the house on the market, Jimmie more or less moves in with his friend Montgomery Allen (Jonathan Majors) who helps him bring in their old furniture and spruce up the interior. But San Francisco is a busy city, and soon Jimmie will have to face up to some hard truths and difficult realities which threaten to tear him away from the home to which he feels so attached.
This quasi-autobiographical story makes for one of the most earnest, good-hearted, and deeply emotional movies I’ve seen in some time. Jimmie Fails wrote the script with director Joe Talbot, and his personal connection to the material illuminates his performance. Jonathan Majors also stands out well in a cast littered with excellent performances. And in a big plus, the film is beautifully shot without sacrificing good storytelling. The camera work is artfully done without drawing attention to itself or being distracting, but it is superb to watch.
This is a powerful film and its greatest impact comes from its sensitive approach to the emotions of its characters. Men in movies in general, and African-American men specifically, are usually written to be emotionally withdrawn, or limited solely to “masculine” emotions like anger. The male characters here, on the other hand, are shown more realistically, with deep personal feelings that they cannot help but express. Nearly every character is shown crying at some point, and they rely on their friends for emotional comfort. It’s important that movies be willing to portray emotionally healthy behavior, especially for young men, to help beat back the consequences of toxic masculinity.
This film, in spite of its content issues, is well worth a watch. The biggest problem for most audiences will be the frequent use of profanity, including sexual expletives and the “n” word.. There is a scene which includes about five seconds of full frontal male nudity, but in the movie’s defense, its shot from a distance and is as non-sexual as you can get.
If the content doesn’t scare you off, I highly recommend that you go out and see this movie. It’s a touching story well told, carrying the pain of nostalgia for childhood, the love of having a home rather than just a house, and the stories we tell ourselves about our lives. It gives a complex issue – gentrification and affordable housing – a personal touch and a sense of immediacy. With an excellent cast and a fabulous script, The Last Black Man in San Francisco is a love/hate letter to an ever-evolving city, and an undisguised love letter for its denizens.Directed by Joe Talbot. Starring Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, and Danny Glover.. Running time: 121 minutes. Theatrical release July 12, 2019. Updated April 6, 2020
Watch the trailer for The Last Black Man in San Francisco
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Last Black Man in San Francisco rated R? The Last Black Man in San Francisco is rated R by the MPAA for language, brief nudity and drug use.
Violence: Two characters shove each other. One character is shot offscreen. No actual violence is shown.
Sexual Content: No sex is seen or discussed. One man appears fully naked, but from a distance and this is played comedically rather than sexually.
Profanity: There is frequent use of profanity in all categories throughout, including sexual expletives, scatological terms and many uses of a racial slur.
Alcohol / Drug Use: The protagonist is occasionally shown smoking cigarettes and is once shown smoking what is presumably marijuana with some friends. An individual is shown drinking a beer while watching a movie with friends.
Page last updated April 6, 2020
The Last Black Man in San Francisco Parents' Guide
Jimmie grapples with his obsession for his childhood home. Do you think it has a positive overall impact on his life? What aspects are negative?
The film frequently shows homeless people, many of whom suffer with mental illness. San Francisco has one of the most expensive housing markets in the world. Do you think municipalities have a responsibility to maintain affordable housing for their residents? Have any cities taken an approach to homelessness that you support? What approach does your city take?
San Francisco struggles with gentrification pushing out poorer homeowners. This film highlights that this typically involves white residents pushing black residents further and further from the city. As the title suggests, by squatting in what is now a “rich” neighborhood, Jimmie may be the “Last Black Man in San Francisco”, the others having been pushed further into the Bay Area. How do you feel about gentrification?
Jimmie and Montie are close friends, but that doesn’t always mean they get along. How do they resolve conflicts with each other? Do you think their relationship is healthy?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Insecure housing is a challenge for millions of Americans. In Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City author Matthew Desmond shares his experience in embedding within communities which struggle to find safe, affordable housing.
It’s easy to see “the homeless” as a group instead of as individuals with their own lives and stories. In Tell Them Who I Am: The Lives of Homeless Women anthropologist Elliot Liebow interviewed homeless women for a first person perspective on life without a place to call home.