Film Review: Green Book


black man and white man in green car
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The Green Book was created in 1936 by Victor Hugo Green, a black postal worker who wanted to help African Americans to stay safe while travelling on US roads.

It takes more than genius. It takes courage to change hearts.

The story
Based on true events, Green Book tells of a famous black pianist Dr Donald Shirley (Mahershala Ali), who hires a racist Italian-American man named Tony Vallelonga [a.k.a. Tony Lip] (Viggo Mortensen) to be his driver. Set in the 1960s, the story follows Shirley and Vallelonga as they hit the road when Shirley goes on tour for two months. Abiding by the Green Book (“for vacation without aggravation”), the pair must select appropriate accommodation and restaurants where black people can sleep, eat and feel welcome. Dr Shirley and Tony Vallelonga are as different as night and day, but through many conversations, unpleasant encounters and uncomfortable situations, they strike up an unlikely friendship. In the process, they learn from one another.

My review
Green Book is an important movie worth watching.

It could make you feel hot under the collar. Of course, this would depend on who you are. Set in the Midwest and Deep South of the 1960s, racism is at the core of this film. Shirley experiences extreme highs and lows from one moment to the next. One minute he is applaueded for his excellent skills as a pianist, but as soon as he steps off that stage, he is refused access to the household toilet and told to use the lavatory outside. This is just one example.

The film will also show you what could happen when people take the time to get to know each other, instead of making judgement calls based on the colour of one’s skin. At one point Shirley says to Vallelonga, “It takes more than genius. It takes courage to change hearts.” Watching Vallelonga transform is the most satisfying part of the movie.

Both actors play their roles well, staying true to the characters they portray. They annoyed me and made me proud in equal parts, and I loved their humour and witty conversations.

In addition to racism, the film tackles topics such as pride (amid humiliation) and prejudice against sexual preferences, and may give some a glimpse into a terrible world, far removed from the bubble they live in. I recommend you watch Green Book because it’s a great movie. It’s no wonder it received no less than three Academy Awards.

If you haven’t seen it yet, click here to watch the trailer.


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