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Last Black Man in San Francisco, The


Stars: Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Rob Morgan, Tichina Arnold, Mike Epps, Finn Wittrock, Danny Glover, Willie Hen, Jamal Truvole

Director: Joe Talbot

The eponymous tile character, credibly enough played by Falls, and his best friend Majors skateboard around San Francisco hoping to make true Falls' dream of reclaiming the classic Victorian house that he claims his grandfather built in the heart of the city.

The optimistic odyssey initially moves as smoothly as his impressive skateboarding progress but, after serendipitously finding the mansion in the city's Fillmore District, Falls learns the hard way that dreams and ambitions are not always fulfilled serendipitously in classic Hollywood style.

Co-writer (with Ron Richert) Talbot makes an impressive directorial debut, delivering an emotionally moving story whose narrative arc and unfamiliar faces makes it less an obvious major theatrical release than a natural film festival choice - it was screened at the recent London Film Festival. Locarno and Sundance where Talbot won the directing award.

The emotionally strong storyline propels the emotionally moving narrative effectively enough, fascinating subsidiary characters add impact to a poignant fable of friendship, home and community with Glover providing a telling supporting performance.

Now-familiar San Francisco cinematic locations have long been a cinema staple in films ranging from such movies as 1936's eponymous San Francisco, Vertigo, Big Trouble in Little China, Bedazzled and Mrs Doubtfire to Escape from Alcatraz, The Pursuit of Happiness, Bulllitt, Dirty Harry and So I Married an Axe Murderer.

Here, apart from a brief mist-shrouded guest appearance by the Golden Gate, Talbot features no well-known San Francisco locations, a choice that adds to the ultimate emotional/dramatic impact of his pleasurable storytelling.

Alan Frank

USA 2019. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour.
121 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 27 Oct 2019