“Green Book”: An Oscar-worthy Character Movie

Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in "Green Book"

Green Book takes place in the early ’60s and is based on a true story. The performances of Vigo Mortensen as Tony Lip and Mahershala Ali as Don Shirley were Oscar worthy and convincing on all accounts. While a movie inevitably cannot solve every issue surrounding race, it is definitely an eye-opening story and an inspiring watch.

We are not historians, so we cannot judge how accurately Peter Farrelly portrays what life would have been like for a black artist of the Deep South in 1962. What we can judge the movie on is how convincingly it told the story of its characters and how it made us feel watching them.

We can confidently say that watching the relationship between Dr. Don Shirley and Tony Lip made us feel good, great even. They tell the story of overcoming obstacles and celebrating our differences as well as the shared experiences that makes us the same. While they do run into outside characters who alter the plot’s path slightly, the focus of the movie is Doc and Tony and this is the story that we care about.

Don Shirley is a lost soul, who is not accepted by his community or the white community. He meets Tony, a ’60s tough guy, who becomes his bodyguard and driver during Don’s tour with his band around the Deep South. While Don is cultured and sophisticated, Tony is the stark opposite. The two have nothing in common and watching them be thrust into this bizarre situation where they are forced to spend time together is both comical and endearing to watch.

What makes the developing relationship so delightful to witness is that it’s not just Tony getting a lesson about culture and tolerance. Both characters gain a new perspective through meeting one another and grow as the movie progresses. Their dynamic and on-screen chemistry is electric and although their story might be set in a specific context, the essence of the movie is universally human.

Overall, Green Book is a thoroughly enjoyable character movie featuring Oscar worthy performances and direction from the cast and crew. It’s not a movie about racism, it’s a movie about two people who overcome their own prejudices to form an unlikely and beautiful friendship.