The Last Black Man in San Francisco ★½

An absolutely beautiful film that absolutely bored me to tears. 

It’s highly likely that I didn’t get the emotional thrust of the film given my lack of attunement to the subject matter, but I didn’t much quite grasp what this was doing. I mean, I think I understood what it was trying to do — speak on gentrification — but it only ever felt to me like it was doing so in the most specious of ways and in order to speak on the complicity of black men in their own misfortune. Which seems insane at best? At least Boyz N the Hood argued that this misfortune self-perpetuates due to the systems imposed by white/corporate society, and didn’t waste a conversation about gentrification in doing so. 

Also, in lightly brushing over the idea that the Fails family took over a property and built a better home in a Japanese neighborhood (even if this doesn’t prove true) hints that African Americans were gentrifiers as well, but the film appears to have no interest in engaging with the hypocrisy it suggests. Maybe it doesn’t recognize the script’s implication of this, which is foolish; alternatively, it does recognize it and is hinting that gentrification is cyclical and inevitable, which seems like a terrible argument. In either case, I’m not on board. 

All told, the acting was stellar, and it was a stunner to look at, but I felt like both of these elements papered over the gaping flaws in the script. I wanted so badly to like this, too.