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Oscars Challenge #60: Green Book (2018) Movie Review

I had almost little to zero knowledge about the movie Green Book and the real story behind it. I am familiar with the actors playing the two main characters. One played Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings franchise, and the other, Cornell Stokes from the Luke Cage Netflix series. Their personalities seemed like a far cry from this madly controversial film.

This movie tackles several hard-hitting topics like racial prejudice, discrimination, etc. So it might not suit everyone.

The movie follows the story of two men in the Bronx. Tony Lip, an Italian American bouncer, searches for a new job after the previous bar he worked in was closed for renovations. He gets interviewed by Don Shirley, an African American Jazz Pianist who needs a driver for his concert tour that involves the deep south. Convinced by Tony's wife, Dolores, he agrees to take on the job despite his attitude towards black people. The initial plan was to return on Christmas Eve. Don's record label gave Tony a Green Book to guide him on where the pianist would stay or what restaurants to visit in the Jim Crow South.

Due to the differences between their beliefs, especially Tony's attitude towards him because of his ethnic background. As the tour progresses, he gets more impressed because Don Shirley passionately plays the piano. As they visit cities or states in the south, the people treat Don with more disrespect and racial segregation, prompting Tony to declare that he should not go around without him by his side. Tony occasionally writes letters to his wife but is terrible because of his word choices and grammar. Don helps him to write perfect letters, and the two establish a mutual friendship by helping each other get through.

Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali played Tony Lip and Don Shirley, respectively. Meanwhile, Linda Cardellini played Dolores, the wife of Tony. Peter Farrelly directed Green Book.

I know people dislike the film because it is tone-deaf and deals with racism harshly, unlike any other. This movie might have mishandled the term like Driving Miss Daisy (1989), a similar road drama movie. But I think the movie was okay. Some scenes where Tony wants Don Shirley to eat KFC Chicken are inappropriate, but overall I think it was a good film.

There are some hard-hitting quotable lines in the movie that I like. The way they are delivered through the brilliant acting of both Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali deserves a chef's kiss.

Beautifully outlined in the film is how Tony Lip's personality changes from an arrogant white person who despises serving people of color to a more understanding one.

Constant usage of light and dark color tones throughout the film outlines the relationship between the two main characters. At some point, when scenes are beautifully lighted, the tone gets lighter, and during the hard-hitting scenes, everything becomes darker, which is also paired in contrast with the soundtrack mix of jazz and contemporary pop music.

What I am missing in the film is the concept of the Green Book, which was only mentioned a couple of times, but we never fully understood it. They could have expounded it more by explaining or showing a few things. It gets lost in the story, making you forget it.

The film is madly controversial, especially from the perspective of Don Shirley's relatives.

Green Book, despite being criticized by many as a film that depicts racism wrongly or promotes stereotypes, I think it is a solid film. There are a couple of tearjerker scenes as the relationship between Tony and Don Shirley gets tested. Plus, the way the film is shot is incredible, and the cinematography is on point.

A pretty good 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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