Introduction and Overview
“Green Book” is a biographical comedy-drama film released on November 16, 2018. Directed by Peter Farrelly, the film is based on the real-life friendship between African-American classical pianist Dr. Don Shirley and Italian-American bouncer Tony Vallelonga. The movie is set in the racially segregated United States of the 1960s, as the two men embark on a road trip through the Deep South.
The Plot and Key Characters
The film’s plot centers on the unlikely friendship that develops between Dr. Don Shirley, portrayed by Mahershala Ali, and Tony Vallelonga, played by Viggo Mortensen. Tony is hired as Dr. Shirley’s driver and bodyguard during his concert tour in the Southern states. The two men, who come from very different backgrounds and social classes, face various challenges and prejudices as they journey through the racially divided South.
Themes of Racism and Friendship
“Green Book” explores themes of racism, discrimination, and the power of friendship to bridge divides. The title of the film refers to “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” a real travel guidebook that provided information on safe places for African-Americans to eat, sleep, and travel during the era of racial segregation. Throughout the film, Tony becomes more aware of the injustices faced by African-Americans, while Dr. Shirley finds support and understanding from his unexpected friendship with Tony.
Acting Performances and Awards
“Green Book” received critical acclaim, particularly for the outstanding performances of Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen. Both actors earned widespread praise for their portrayals of Dr. Don Shirley and Tony Vallelonga, respectively. Mahershala Ali won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role, and the film also won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Social Impact and Controversy
Despite its critical success, “Green Book” faced some controversy for its portrayal of race relations and the way it handled the story of Dr. Don Shirley. Some critics argued that the film oversimplified the complexities of racism and relied on the “white savior” trope. However, others appreciated the film’s focus on the genuine friendship between the two main characters.