‘Green Book’ is powerful, timely


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Grant Wheeler

Green Book is a 2018 comedy-drama film directed by Peter Farrelly. Based on true events, Viggo Mortensen plays Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga, an unrefined yet warm-hearted Italian-American who bounces at night and gambles to provide for his family. Mahershala Ali plays “Doc” Don Shirley, a black pianist who has recently hired Frank after he was let go from his job bouncing, to drive him throughout his eight-week concert tour of the deep south.

The film has fallen on almost universal acclaim. It was nominated for five Academy Awards and five Golden Globe awards, including winning best picture at the globes. Did I mention the screenplay was also co-written by the protagonist of the film’s real-life son? 

I absolutely loved this film. Green Book is a masterclass, an important film and a film that everyone needs to see. What a powerful message this movie contains, and one that couldn’t have come sooner in this particular time in America.

This film is about more than just loving your fellow man: It’s a film about self-discovery and betterment. The two men grow with each other throughout their journey, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch unfold.

Mortensen and Ali’s chemistry is amazing in the film. Both actors are at the top of their class, and it really helps breathe life into these characters. The film really takes the time to examine its characters, their goals, their aspirations and their behaviors. All of this results in a great, authentic experience that consistently keeps you engaged.

I’m always kind of concerned with the pacing of the “road-trip” film plot, but wow did they get it right in this one. The sequences in this film flow seamlessly. I was pleasantly surprised at how natural the film’s plot moved along – it’s probably my favorite aspect of the film, to be honest. The conversations between the characters on their journey will provoke the audience to think critically about the problems that lay beneath surface of society in 1960s southern America.

Scenes are shot with diligence and attention to detail; this is a film that demands your attention. The camera work is fantastic and among some of the best I’ve seen this year. Also a big nod to the score, and the composer, Kris Bowers; the piano sequences were phenomenal. Music is the soulful core of this film, and much like in the actual world, our characters bond and grow through music as they embark on their journey.

Green Book has been under fire recently due to “historical inaccuracies” cited by the real-life Don Shirley’s brother, who was talked about none-too-nicely in a few parts of the movie, but I don’t think that really matters here. The thing to take away from this film is the heartfelt message it presents to us. This is a lighthearted take on a truly dark issue – a very well executed take at that.

Give Green Book a watch – this buzz is not for nothing.

Score: 8.9/10