Arts and Culture

Film Review: “Green Book” by Lisa Harper Campbell

Posted on: Sat 19 Jan 2019

By Lisa Harper Campbell

With its engaging, well-drawn characters, brilliantly embodied by Viggo Mortensen and Mahershela Ali, Green Book is a must-see.

Following real-life events, the film transports us to 1960s America where everyday racism is on display throughout the country as two very different men (a concert pianist and his driver) travel from New York to the deep South and back again.

Tony is a working-class New Yorker of Italian descent who has recently lost his job, not through any fault of his own, as bouncer, or ‘public relations’ manager of the Copacabana club. A rough diamond who takes pride in his ability as a fun-loving “bullshit artist” is hard-working and loyal.  During his time of unemployment, he comes into contact with an African-American concert pianist Dr Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) who offers him work as a driver for his upcoming tour.

Ali has been sweeping the awards thus far for his performance and it’s easy to see why.  Dr Don Shirley, held in high regard by his ensemble members (the Don Shirley Trio) not only for his virtuosity but also for his tenacity, has high expectations for himself and those around him. Maintaining dignity in the face of adversity and discrimination is paramount to him as he navigates what he describes as the isolating phenomenon of being too ‘white’ for the black community but too ‘black’ for the white community.

What could have easily become an odd couple cliché with an inferior script or lesser performers is instead a charming exploration into an unlikely friendship and the development of a mutual respect not despite but because of the differences between these two men.

Sincere without being earnest, Green Book is relevant, important and really bloody entertaining – the dream combination. Go see it.  As soon as you can.

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