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“And the Oscar goes to… Green Book!” – A Review

“You know… world’s full of lonely people afraid to make the first move.” – Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga

In February this year, Green Book won the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture of the year, and it was well deserved.

Directed by Peter Farrelly, Green Book is based around the incredible true story of the unlikely friendship between bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga and African-American pianist Don Shirley.

Set in 1962, Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) is tasked with the job of driving Shirley (Mahershala Ali) through the Southern States of the USA. Whilst the two had their cultural and ethical differences, to begin with, they both start to respect each other and face America’s racial injustices together.

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Whilst based around the true friendship of Tony Vallelonga and Don Shirley, the film gets its name from the infamous motorist handbook known as The Negro Motorist Green-Book.  First published in 1937, it helped African-American tourists and motorists find places such as hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and state parks that were accepting and embracing of all cultures.

A topic that is still an important issue in modern society, Green Book does not treat the issue lightly, calling into question the amount of disrespect and inequality people of colour had during the 20th century.

One vital scene that highlights both this underlying issue and the development of the character’s friendship is found towards the back end of the film, during the final performance.

When Don is refused entry into the ‘white’s-only’ dining room, the same room he is hired to perform in, Tony stands up for him and threatens the owner. The owner then complains about his contractual obligation to perform, however Tony’s strong morals compel him to take Don away from the ‘snobby’ establishment and to a place more accepting.

However, what really captures the movie’s essence is the effort put in by Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali towards developing their characters to their full emotional range. Ali especially, who ultimately received his second Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Both Mortensen and Ali should be commemorated for their fantastic performances in helping bring a lovely true story to life.

The chemistry between the two actors both on and off the screen further enhanced the stunning performances, and along with a lovely colour palette and stunning scenery, the movie has a strong visual aesthetic from beginning to end.

Green Book is a heartfelt film that highlights the problem of racism in a beautiful way. The narrative is never boring, and it will be an everlasting favourite for years to come.

Green Book: 8.5/10

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