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An unlikely friendship: A review of Green Book

Released at the beginning of 2018, Green Book went on to be one of the best films, winning three of its five Oscar nominations, including best picture. While technically a comedy, it does not shy away from tackling some tough issues in society.

Dr Don Shirley is a world-class African-American pianist, who is set to embark on a concert tour in the South of America in 1962. In need of a driver and a bodyguard, he recruits Tony Vallelonga, a bouncer from an Italian-American neighbourhood. Despite their differences, the two men soon develop an unexpected bond while confronting racism in an era of segregation.

Green Book is based on a true story, and the son of the real Tony Vallelonga, Nick, comes onto the film as a writer to lend a hand in properly telling the story. Directed by Peter Farrelly, the story is well represented and demonstrates the clear bond the two formed over their journey. The scene that demonstrates this best comes towards the end.

With snowing coming down heavily, it seems as of Tony won’t make it home in time for Christmas dinner, a promise he had made to his wife at the start of the film, but Dr Shirley takes it upon himself to make sure he arrives home in time.

Tony invites Dr Shirley to meet has family and have dinner with them, and while he initially refuses, Shirley eventually returns to spend time with someone who cares about him deeply. What this scene highlights is that the pair have changed over the course of the movie and have formed a strong bond through their shared experience of the trip.

There is a strong theme of racial prejudice throughout the film. Tony himself is guilty of doing so, seen at the beginning throwing out cups used by two African-American workers. Shirley experiences prejudice at just about every venue they visit on the tour. While Tony himself is at times prejudiced towards African-Americans, he gradually changes his views. As Shirley is continuously being discriminated against, Tony stands up for him and does the right thing.

The acting is done incredibly well. Mortensen expertly portrays a stereotypical Italian-American, and he does it so well that it almost seems like a gimmick but it instead adds a level of charm to the film. Ali is perfect in his role as a black musician in the ‘60s, facing the tough challenge of being in a society that does not want or appreciate him.

The camera work is fairly minimalistic, but it works well for the story. There is a clear focus on the characters themselves and the situations they find themselves in. A simple scene, such as the efforts to get Tony home in time for Christmas dinner, is presented so it turns out to be suspenseful.

To put it simply, Green Book is an outstanding movie. The acting is well done, helping to bring a story to life in a simplistic way.

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