I haven’t been this confused after a movie in a very long time. Was I happy? Was I sad? This artistic tour de force left me brooding and questioning if I truly found happiness in my life.
Newcomer Jimmie Fails leads this beautifully told story about a man who’s searching for a place to call home in a very different San Francisco than he’s used to.
The film starts with Jimmie Fails and his artistic best friend Montgomery, Jonathan Majors (“White Boy Rick” “Hostiles”) spending their free time fixing up Jimmie’s childhood home even when the occupants don’t want them around.
Jimmie believes there’s nobody good enough to live there since he’s the only one who truly cares for it. San Francisco is his one true love and taking care of this house is his love letter.
Jimmie was abandoned by both his mother and father at a young age and has always searched for a belonging. He lives with Montgomery at Montgomery’s Grandfather’s house and acknowledged that this isn’t home even though he is cared for by his best friend.
When the new tenants leave due to a family matter, the house is left empty and Jimmie decides to live there until he is forced out. He believes that if he keeps the house in perfect shape that he’ll be able to convince the owners that he belongs there.
Frist-time-feature director and co-writer Joe Talbot brilliantly displays passion for the city through long continuous colorful takes of the Bay Area you don’t normally see. Talbot takes us on an unpredictable journey with the characters that keeps you surprised until the credits roll.
With the help of Emile Mosseri’s heartfelt score, the city becomes alive with infatuation and doesn’t want you to let go.
I wanted to join Jimmie and Montgomery on their adventure through the city. I wanted to hear Jimmie’s thoughts while admiring Montgomery’s drawings. I wanted to see the city through Jimmie’s eyes.
The performances by Fails and Majors were mesmerizing to watch. Both actors brought an impulsive emotional openness in every scene they were in. These were characters that cared for each other so deeply, that at times you forgot that this was about a love story between a man and a house.
Every time Fails starts to speak about the city or house, it feels like the spotlight is just on him and he is creating poetry in front of our eyes. Nothing feels scripted in this film, everything is free flowing and poetic thanks in part to first-time-feature co-writers Talbot and Rob Richert.
Fails does perfect work in a semi auto-biographical role, but the true standout is Majors. I really hope Majors gets some awards attention because what he does in the third act of the movie brought tears to my eyes.
The supporting cast was also perfect with Danny Glover (“Lethal Weapon” “Dead Don’t Die”) as Montgomery’s blind Grandfather, Tichina Arnold (“Everybody Hates Chris (TV)”, “Martin (TV)) as Jimmie’s Aunt Wanda, and Mike Epps (“Next Friday” “The Hangover”) as Bobby. Each has their moment to shine in the film and none of them disappoint.
All these factor into one of the best and most surprising films of 2019. It should be in your Top 10 by the end of the year if you like a slow dreamlike stay in a beautiful city filled with beautiful people telling one amazing story.