Green Book stars Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen in the real life story of Dr Don Shirley, an African-American pianist who employs the loose, violent, Italian Tony Lip to drive him through a concert tour across America in the 1960’s. They clash on values and attitudes, but ultimately develop a friendship as they witness the racism of the deep-South.
This film has done the a real flip in how it’s been received by the public. What I initially thought to be a harmless Oscar bait film with a touch of white guilt thrown in has transformed into a film with a terrible image. Scandal after scandal after scandal has really thrown the opinion of this film, which to be honest wasn’t much to start with. So I walked into the screening not expecting much.
However the film does have it’s redeeming qualities, and I caught myself being very charmed in moments. Ali and Mortensen are matched nicely together, and either together or apart get to showcase great moments of wit, compassion, stoicism and laughter. The look and feel of the film is very easy to digest. It looks great, moves at a nice pace, and is evenly balanced by scenes of good and bad.
The message of the film is pretty simple. Racism is bad. But at times it also felt like the message was ‘see! look! not all white people are racist!’ and ‘even white people go through their fair share of discrimination!’. Which is fine to have, but I don’t know is incredibly fair to the story of Dr Shirley and those who suffered in the same way as him. The fact that the family of Dr Shirley have come out against the film makes is difficult for me to take this film as anything other than a fair night at the cinema, which at it’s best sweetly and simply tackles very strong historical issues.
Cover photo: Universal, via Vanity Fair