This one is really great.
Green Book is the true story of an African-American pianist, Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his trio of musicians trip through the Deep South of the United States in the 1960s. In order to make the trip, Shirley needed a driver/bodyguard, someone who knew how to get things done and not afraid to do what was needed.
Enter Italian bouncer Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) who was recommended to Shirley. Tony was a tough guy and he was a world class bulls**tter.
Tony brought Shirley ( or Doc, as he called him) through each stop of the tour, seeing first hand the cruelty of racism, the unfair treatment Doc had to endure and the remarkable talent that the pianist displayed.
There are so many moments in this movie that, much like the recent The Hate U Give, are hard to watch or that we can believe could happen in America. As a white man, I can just look at some of the ways these people treated Doc with shock and disappointment.
The relationship between Tony and Shirley is easily the key to the movie. Seeing these two men develop and learn about each other and develop feelings of friendship toward one another as this tour continued is easily the highlight of the movie. Both Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen are Oscar worthy in their work here and the way each man learns information about the other is a wonderful example to how we can cross race and differences with respect and honesty.
The film is not just a dramatic film though. It actually is very funny as well. The movie is brilliantly written and the humor comes organically with the dialogue and the situations these characters are placed in. The moment where Tony is able to get Dr. Shirley to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken is one of the best scenes in the film. Such a human moment that is just one example of great moments peppered throughout Green Book.
Linda Cardellini is Tony’s wife, Dolores, and, while she was not as important to the story as she could have been, her presence was absolutely felt and was a key reason the two men were able to be brought together as Shirley began helping Tony write the letters home to her. Cardellini’s role was more than “just-the-wife” here and she does a great job.
I am sure that the movie could have been uglier as the time in the country was horrible for race relations and racism was just too prevalent, but the movie did its share to shine a light on how the tour was for these two men. It also ended with such a strong and positive message that it shows that it is possible for racism to be overcome and to bring us together as a people. If only there was more of that in the world, we would be so much better off.
Green Book was an outstanding time at the theater and I would recommend it to anyone.