Green Book

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The film ‘Green Book’ centers around the civil rights movement of the year 1962. It highlights the adversity that the young musician faces for being black, when he tours through southern US states. The relationship between the two main characters is very strong and creates an interesting dynamic that changes the more time they spend together. Tony is very ignorant towards the issues that African American men face in the states. He gets forced to face it when he becomes the driver of Don Shirley. Tony has a lot of pride and sees this job as below him, but he needs the job. Tony is racist and has his prejudices towards black people however, doesn’t believe he has any issues with racism. Don always feels like an outsider, he doesn’t fit in with any crowd. I enjoyed the film although I don’t think it deserved ‘Best Picture’ at the 2019 Oscars over other films like Blackkklansman and Bohemian Rhapsody.

I found the pacing to be really poorly executed, it was too slow and took too long to get started. For a movie with a run time of 2 hours and 10 minutes, it could have easily been cut down to an hour and a half or even less. Throughout the film I felt like some of the scenes were boring or unnecessary to the overall plot. On top of that the cinematography was not that great and was nothing special. There were no scenes that really stood out to me or showcased any interesting choices in terms of lighting, colours, or shot types. When Don is interviewing Tony there are so many props in the background that it is distracting and on top of that it becomes blurry in some shots. Thus, losing the crispness of the film in one scene.

I think the part I like the most about this film is the two main characters and their dynamic throughout the film. The two of them carry the film in a movie with very few characters in general. As the focus of the film, the performances by Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen are phenomenal. Tony is very prone to think alongside society’s stereotypes. He doesn’t think outside the box very much and does not believe that there is anything wrong with the way he thinks, because he believes everyone thinks this way. It is until he is in the south and sees the way Don Shirley is treated in comparison to himself that he realizes he is a part of the problem. At the beginning of the movie two African American men come to fix a broken system in their house, they drink from two glasses. Then we see Tony throw the glasses away and his wife Linda finds them. Linda doesn’t hold the same prejudices as her husband and takes the cups out of the garbage. The glasses are symbolic of Tony's feelings towards people of colour. At the end of the film, Tony invites Don Shirley into his home and serves him dinner at the table with his family. This shows that he has gone through a complete one-eighty from the start of the film. I think his character showcases how even people with the strongest views one way, can learn to change their ways.

Don Shirley is an African American musician, touring the United States of America. He is wealthy upper class and has connections to people in high places. He does not seem to understand how the rules and feelings towards black people changes from the north to the south so drastically. As they journey throughout the states he gets treated worse and worse. Starting with hotels for ‘whites only’ to police brutality. I think a pivotal moment in the story is when Tony stands up for Don in the restaurant that is paying him to perform but won’t allow him to dine in their hall. They claim its tradition, which goes to show us how just because something is “tradition” doesn't mean it's right. Don Shirley is too white for the black crowd and too black for the white crowd. He spends most of his time in rich white communities and worked hard to escape the adversity only to be thrown back into it. This was most evident when they drive by a plantation and see only African American people working the fields, while he stands on the other side of the fence in his fancy suit being driven by a white man. He seems to never know where he fits. When we first meet his character he seems very alone and independent. By the end of the story he is surrounded by Tony’s family and welcomed into their holiday gathering. I think the role is very impactful and his experiences are powerful. This is why I think Mahershala Ali did a great job at bringing this character to life, which he won best supporting actor for at the Academy Awards.

To conclude, I thought the two main characters work well together and are key to this story. The story is an important story to tell and I liked the difference between the two characters that allowed the viewer to see how each is treated drastically different from each other. Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen carry the film, otherwise I was not a fan of the visual appearance of the film. Furthermore, the pacing should have been different, as it seems like they were trying too hard to stretch it out longer. I think the film overall is enjoyable and an average good quality film however, I found what it was not what I would have chosen for ‘best picture’. Especially, looking at the talent of this year’s Oscars with ‘Parasite’, ‘Jojo Rabbit’ and ‘1917’, I don’t believe it fits the same caliber of film.


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