No one expected “Green Book” to reach the level of popularity that it has gained so far. Despite some controversy surrounding the film’s facts and criticism about its handling of race relations, its box office success earned the film recognition and a long stint in theaters.
“Green Book,” directed by Peter Farrelly, tells the true story of how an unlikely friendship blossoms in 1962 — when racial tensions in the country were at their peak — between Tony “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortenson), a working-class Italian-American, and Dr. Don “Doc” Shirley (Mahershala Ali), an African-American classical pianist.
The plot kicks off as Vallelonga is looking for a job, and he comes across Shirley, who is looking for someone to escort him across the Deep South for a piano tour, in which he hopes to change people’s stubborn traditions of prejudice. But to safely navigate through the South, the duo has to use “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” a guidebook published annually from 1936 to 1966 that advised black travelers about safe places to visit and stay.
From there, the plot steadily develops with many twists and turns, along with a few warm-hearted jokes thrown in.
From the moment Tony Lip and Doc meet, “Green Book” shows us why a film with contrasting characters is so interesting to watch. The big-mouthed Vallelonga says whatever he’s thinking, which constantly clashes with the proper and ever-insightful Shirley along the movie’s ride.
Even though they clash, each protagonist is given a problem that he has to work out with the other character’s help. Vallelonga must confront his own narrowmindness, while an issue — finding acceptance in a society that undervalues him — entirely out of his control looms over Shirley. The way this film’s plot and characters develop nearly turns this film into an instant classic.
There is no doubt that Mortensen and Ali deliver two of the strongest performances of the year, and the most shocking part is how these two primarily dramatic actors nail the comedic portions of their roles. They deliver jokes with ease in between all the heavy, dramatic moments the story holds.
Another highlight of the film is Linda Cardellini’s performance as Delores Vallelonga, Tony’s wife. Her performance was so accurate that screenwriter Nick Vallelonga, who wrote the story based on his father’s experiences, became emotional every time he looked at her on set. She brought stability to the story and succeeded in playing a pivotal role during some important scenes.
Needless to say, the acting and writing of “Green Book” are the strongest points of the film.
Editing was a big part of the film’s success as well. Every cut helps the film elicit a wide variety of emotions from its audience when it creates certain moments, such as the first time Tony Lip and Doc meet or the extraordinary concerts performed by Shirley. The editing ultimately decides how the story is told, and it couldn’t have been better in this film.
“Green Book” will fill you with all different kinds of emotions throughout its showing, so take some time to be enlightened while also having an overall enjoyable time and go see one of this year’s best movies.