January 2, 2020 – Waiting for a bus that never comes, best friends Jimmie Fails (played by himself) and Montgomery “Mont” Allen (played by Jonathan Majors of “Hostiles”) listen to an itinerant preacher (played by Willie Hen) rail about pollution and social injustice in San Francisco.
After waiting a while, they decide to skate to their destination on Jimmie's skateboard. Their destination is a stately Victorian home, where Jimmie works to paint the exterior trim while the occupants are away, but the residents of the house catch him and tell him to leave.
It soon becomes obvious why Jimmie would try to repair a house that isn't his. His grandfather built the house and he used to live there. Someday, he hopes to own it, although that appears to be a far-fetched dream with San Francisco's sky high real estate prices and Jimmie's meager income selling fish.
One day, Jimmie and Mont arrive at the house to find the occupants moving out. The house is being vacated because of a dispute over who inherits the house. Jimmie sees his chance and moves into the vacant house, with help from his aunt Wanda (Tichina Arnold) who had stored his family's furniture at her home outside the city.
It is pretty obvious to everyone but Jimmie that squatting in this house is not going to last, and he doesn't have a get-rich-quick scheme to raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars needed for a down payment on the house, or the income to pay the $4 million asking price, even on installments.
Jimmie and Mont continue to live the fantasy for as long as they can, but when the house comes up for sale and Mont finds out that Jimmie's story about who built the house may not be true, the fantasy unravels. Mont writes a play titled “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” and performs it at the house in an attempt to get Jimmie to see the truth about the house and his claim to it.
The question is, will Jimmie and Mont remain friends after this confrontation? In addition to this confrontation, there are others in the story, of old friends who say hurtful things to Jimmie and Mont, and the tragic death of one of their old friends.
Mont's play reveals that a man is more than the house he lives in and a man has many more dimensions than the labels pinned on him by society. Jimmie is such a man, and he is being asked by his best friend to rise above his story, and the labels that society applies to him. This is a delicate and thoughtful film, a fine first directing effort by Joe Talbot, with a story written, in part, by Fails himself based on his own experiences. It rates a B.
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