I am usually quite dubious of biopics. Nothing makes me angry more than something ‘based on a true story’ and then when you read the facts, nothing adds up and some of the best bits are inputted for ‘dramatic effect’ (par example in The Other Boleyn Girl where suddenly Anne Boleyn’s sister raises the future Queen Elizabeth…NOPE!).
But, not only is Green Book a wonderful film that made me cry it was so good, it was BASED ENTIRELY IN FACT (well, I’d say 80%). It does help the writers has been developing the script for ages and happens to know the two leads very, very well. Nick Vallelonga, son of Tony Vallelonga (played note-perfect by Viggo Mortensen) has such a rich bank of facts that it’s very difficult to criticise much of this film. I have seen some critics do so, out of some sort of weird social justice duty, I think.
Anyway, the film follows Tony Lip/Vallelonga, a racist New Yo-ik-er immigrant who finds himself out of work. He is head hunted by legendary pianist Don Shirley, who has heard about Tony’s amazing ability to ‘handle trouble’. Despite Tony’s initial reservations of ‘working for a man of colour’, he decides to go ahead and be Shirley’s driver for his tour of the South.
Tony is brash, sneaky and brutish, whilst Shirley is dainty, polite and enigmatic. The two embark on a groovy, dangerous and life-life-changing journey through some of the most racist states of 50’s America. The Green Book, where the film takes it name, often means that Don and Tony are apart at night because of what hotel’s will let Don stay in, causing conflict, pain and self realisation.
I was overwhelmed at how this film encapsulated and era so well, showed the ugly face of redemption whilst retaining charm, humour and compassion. Mahershala Ali has proved he is an acting power house with this film – give this man more golden statues, NOW!
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