Film Review: Green Book
2019 Academy Award Winner: Best Film
Green Book was very much deemed the underdog at this years Academy Awards however, given its cultural, class and political nature it’s really not so surprising it took home Best Film.
Green Book is based on a true story. Set on the backdrop of 1960’s America the film hones in on the dysfunctional dynamics of segregated living and cultural differences between many. It brings together two contrasting characters; Dr Don Shirley (recent Academy Award Winner: Mahershala Ali), a talented African-American pianist, and Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), an Italian-American doorman/hustler.
The two are universally joined together when Dr Shirley is in need of a driver/body guard before embarking on a classical music tour of the deep south. Vallelonga, in need of extra cash, agrees to Shirley’s terms and becomes his chauffeur. The film drives the audience along the eight-week period as we are immersed in obstacles, confrontation and racial prejudice.
The film starts off by introducing us to Tony and his struggle with trying to provide for his family juxtaposed with Shirley who lives in a penthouse-like building in the same neighbourhood in New York. The character clash becomes central to the film as we learn more about each of their distinctively opposite outlooks on life. Initially, we have Tony, mindless of his racial attitude and somewhat ill educated and then Shirley, condescendingly upper class and well educated.
The pair are standoffish at several pointing the movie but, there was one particular scene that stood out for me and, undoubtedly got them a good few Oscar nods. Picture the scene: Shirley and Vallelonga are arguing at the side of the highway, the rain is lashing down, the pair are deep in confrontation and so the mood is set:
Dr Don Shirley: ‘Yes, I live in a castle! Tony. Alone! And rich white people pay me to play piano for them, because it makes them feel cultured. But as soon as I step off that stage, I go right back to being just another n****r to them. Because that is their true culture. And I suffer that slight alone, because I’m not accepted by my own people, because I’m not like them either! So if I’m not black enough, and if I’m not white enough, and if I’m not man enough, then tell me Tony, what am I?!”
Oh, bravo, bravo! Take a bow gents (“that’s going to win Best Film”).
Despite its controversial but historic content, I felt Green Book managed to overcome all of the negative aspects displayed throughout the film and end on a contented and pleasant note. There was a very important take home message imbedded also: we are all the same, no matter what road blocks we face in life, we are all the same. We are stronger when we work together and support each other and we find true friendship and love through our shared experiences.
I really enjoyed Green Book and think it is definitely worth a watch, we have two incredibly talented actors effortlessly coming together on screen for this laid-back, character driven piece of cinema.
📸images: credit to the owners