Film Review: The Friendship Page of Black & White in ‘Green Book’

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CHICAGO – In the original sin of racism in America, structured in the societal relationship between whites and African Americans, there had to be small steps before there were larger ones. In 1962, a black piano virtuoso and his white Italian New Yorker driver toured through the Deep South and developed a friendship, in the new film “Green Book.” Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

The title refers to a pamphlet, distributed to African Americans in the 1950s and ‘60s, that gave them tips as to which Southern State restaurants, hotels and stores that would accept their business. The driver, Tony “Lip” Vallelonga, used this guide to drive the pianist Don Shirley back then, and also used his connection to Shirley to understand his own deep seated attitudes. Viggo Mortensen portrays Tony, and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight”) is Shirley, and the ardent performances of the two men is one of the many highlights of the film, which bridges the gap of misunderstanding with those small steps, and urges the audience to meet an “issue” on a relationship level.

Tony Vallelonga was a bouncer and fixer at the Copacabana Club in early 1960s New York City. His family and wife (Linda Cardellini) lived in the Bronx, and when Tony is temporary laid off at the end of October in 1962, he applied as a driver for concert pianist Don Shirley, who is doing his first tour of the Deep South. Tony was hired, both for his driving and ability to fix difficult situations.

And almost immediately they encounter these difficulties. Don Shirley is a proud and educated man, and finds it unrealistic that he is not allowed in public buildings or private businesses as they travel. Tony had to break up an attack, deal with indifferent Southerners and even find a way out of arrest. But through it all, a deepening respect between the two men changed their lives.

“Green Book” opened in Chicago on November 16th, and nationwide on November 21st. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco and Dimiter D. Marinov. Written by Nick Vallelonga, Peter Farrelly and Brian Hayes Currie. Directed by Peter Farrelly. Rated “R”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Green Book”

Finding America: Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) and Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) in ‘Green Book’
Photo credit: Universal Pictures

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Green Book”

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