My wife was off work today. She asked if I felt like seeing a movie. Her treat. I said, "Ok". So she took me to see "Green Book".
Even before my review, I must tell you that this Golden Globe winning, Academy Award winning, Best Picture of the Year film stands out to me for its sensational ability to seamlessly fit so many of America's modern historical racial tropes into one two-hour telling.
For those who don't know, what became known colloquially as The Green Book was actually titled, The Negro Motorist Green Book. It was a guidebook, compiled and published by New York City mailman, Victor Hugo Green from 1936 to 1966. It was an advertisement supported registry of locations throughout the Jim Crow South where African American people could safely patronize restaurants, motels, bars, gas stations, mechanics, and stores. It also listed state-by-state facilities like public bathrooms and parks that were designated for our use.
This film tells the true story of concert pianist Dr. Don Shirley (played by Mahershala Ali) who hired New York bouncer Tony Lip (played by Viggo Mortensen) to drive him on a concert tour through the deep South. It dramatically and sometimes comically chronicles their adventures as later told by Shirley to Lip's son, Nick Vallelonga before Shirley's passing. Vallelonga co-wrote the screenplay, which also won him an Academy Award for Best Original Screen Play. It was well deserved. As predictable as this story had to be, nothing in this film felt forced or contrived. I don't only mean the broad, sweeping clichés we can all easily identify, but also the subtle, nuanced experiences that I grew up with as a small boy, along with millions of other African Americans. The ones mainstream America largely missed or simply ignored.
The re-release of this film for Black History Month is spot on. It's safe viewing for the whole family. Be assured it is never graphic, but it offers a snapshot as to what really happened to real people in a real time and place in America.
We knew Green Book would be good, but we frankly didn't expect it to be this good. I'm not sure why there were no other African Americans in the cinema today besides myself. It may have just been a coincidence, but I strongly urge everyone to see the film! When you do, I'm certain you will be as pleasantly surprised as wifey and I were.
Green Book trailer https://youtu.be/QkZxoko_HC0