Do you know what a ‘greenbook‘ is? Apparently, in the segregated south, the ‘greenbook‘ was a document which listed restaurants and lodging people of color were allowed to patronize in a “For Colored Only” White Only” United States of America. Enter Dr. Don Shirley. Shirley, was a highly accomplished classical jazz pianist who was in demand all over the world. When he decides to tour the southern part of the region, it is decided that hiring a white man as a driver may minimize the trouble he would already be privy to simply based on the color of his skin. When Shirley and Tony Vallelonga meet their lives and they view each other in the world is forever changed.
Viggo Mortensen (Tony Lip) is a plain and simple scene-stealer in a film one would not think had any humor at all based on its subject matter. You would be wrong with that assumption. Peter Farrelly, Brian Hayes Currie and Tony’s son Nick Vallelonga spice up this story with humor if for no other reason to illustrate how incredibly ridiculous racism was and currently is. Mahershala Ali as Dr. Don Shirley is elegance and dignity personified. It goes without question that both of these performances are award worthy.
One of the most powerful scenes in the film is when Tony’s wife finds two glasses in the trash that contained lemonade used by two colored service men. It illustrates the disdain toward people of color without uttering one word of dialogue. There are some who may view this film as a “white savior movie.” I view it as a film and lesson on humanity, racism and the ludicrous ideology associate with both when it comes to anyone that looks or sounds different. In my opinion, Green Book is the perfect film for the perfect time in the perfect climate for America and around the world. At then end of the day, we all bleed red regardless of religion, skin color, social or economic status. We all belong to one race – the human race.
Green Book was screened to massive cheers and applause as one of the gala presentations at the AFI Fest after earning rave reviews earlier this year at the Toronto International Film Festival. Produced by Participant Media and Universal Pictures, it will be available in theatres nationwide on November 21st.