Movies / Home Theatre

The Green Book (2018)

By Hervé St-Louis
December 27, 2020 - 15:28

The Green Book is a retelling of the meeting between American piano virtuoso Dr. Don Shirley and driver Frank Vallelonga (referred to as Tony Lip in the film). Shirley, an African-American hires Italian-American Vallelonga to drive and escort him in a concert tour in the Deep American South in the 1960s. What promises to be a conflictual relationship between the men turns into a learning experience for both as each abandons their prejudices and learn about the other.

It turns out that The Green Book is a perfect Christmas Eve movie. I was not expecting this. The story is straightforward with just a few incidents that show how the men change and come to trust one another. That transition into adversaries to friends happens without many epic moments. It is a quiet movie as one could guess with Shirley being so introspective and distant. Lip is flamboyant and boastful throughout the film but not portrayed as a moron. He will amaze you as a better version of Archie Bunker.

Much of the conflicts that could have been portrayed have been mildly suggested making this film a reflexive one instead of a one with huge dramatic event and over acting. Thus, not all audiences will connect with this film, even though it follows the Hallmark movie formula, but between buddies. It felt like the horror of the Old South was sugar-coated.

Mahershala Ali (Shirley) plays his second pianist in this role, after having played one in the first season of Luke Cage. This made me wonder if he was in fact a pianist. Unfortunately, he is not one. The main acting surprise is Viggo Mortensen’s Tony Lip who feels genuinely Italian here. He also looks much younger than he truly is.

The cinematography was very good as it felt that the title of the film was imbued in the colour of the film. It could be just an impression and not an actual colour correction performed by the filmmakers. The Blu-ray edition comes with just a few extras which is disappointing as viewers will surely want to find out more about the two men this film was based on. It is a bit too late to view this film on Christmas Eve, this year, but if you can wait, you may want to make it a date for next year.

Rating: 8.5 /10

Last Updated: February 5, 2023 - 09:06

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