‘Green Book’ Pushes Past Generic Storytelling To Present A Stunning Tale Of Race Relations In The '60s
From Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? to The Help, many films have examined race relations in the 1960's. Some like Malcolm X have considered a specific character or moment in history. Others like To Sir, With Love, allowed the tumultuous times to exist in the backdrop of their stories, becoming a time capsule of America’s shameful past and wicked present. Despite the plethora of work on the subject, there has never been a film quite like Green Book. Based on the real-life friendship of an acclaimed Black classical pianist, Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and an Italian-American club bouncer, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), Green Book chronicles the eight weeks Tony was employed as Dr. Shirley's driver and bodyguard as he embarked on a dangerous concert tour that led the men into the Deep South in the winter of 1962.
Green Book could have easily been yet another generic Civil Rights film or a poor reincarnation of 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy. Luckily, it was much more than that. With stellar performances from Ali -- who carried both an air of class along with the burdens of being an eccentric Black man in the ‘60s in his portrayal -- and Mortensen who put on the weight of Tony (a man who adored food), a New York accent and often crass attitude of Bronx natives are what makes Green Book a top-tier film.
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