Regal Cinemas invited me to see Director Peter Farrelly’s film Green Book, the unveiling of the very talented piano virtuoso Don Shirley of whom I had never heard of prior to seeing this film. The audience was warned that the film was 2 1/2 hours long, but worth every minute of it, but prompted us for feedback once it was over.
I haven’t seen a very good drama in years. What I noticed first about this film was the crispness of the dialogue between its’ characters. The smoothness of the way in which this film addresses communication between all the people portrayed is part of the charm of this film. I found myself so engaged, not once did I ‘mentally exit’ the film experience because of some belief being asked to be suspended or something I noticed was out of place because of poor continuity.
2 1/2 hours later when the credits rolled, I was reminded, as I was told at the beginning of this film, that this was a true story. The film has many layers. It addresses Don Shirley’s struggles with who he is. “If I’m not black enough and I’m not white enough, then who am I?” he asks himself. It also addresses the relationship between Don and his associate Tony ‘Lip’ Vallelonga, a bruiser who has a talent for being a master bullshitter and knows how to take care of himself, and others.
Incidentally, one of the writers of the film Nick Vallelonga is the son of the real life Tony. The film is executive produced by Octavia Spencer.
The film is so authentic, I could feel the racial tensions represented in this film in the south. I felt myself feeling appalled and saddened at the same time. The film handled racism in a way I have not seen before. Perhaps because I was so engaged and invested in the characters, it didn’t feel forced or ‘acted’ out.
There were a lot of funny moments in the film, even when serious topics were being dealt with. There was mystery regarding Don Shirley. He was truly a refined man who cared of morals and ethics and what is right. He was sheltered in some ways and enlightened in others. He was a man we all would benefit from knowing.
The performances between Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen are inspired and harmonious. There is real chemistry between these two. Linda Cardellini plays wife to Tony and never goes over the top though she had room to do it. And that’s a good thing here. The focus remained on Don Shirley and Tony Lip.
This, by far and away, is a film worth the Best Picture award, more-so than any other film I’ve seen this year. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to what real drama feels like. Director Peter Farrelly delivers the goods, without the crude humor, showing us he can be refined as well.
The film has a lot to say about how we can all stand to ‘do better’.
For more information on Don Shirley, click here:
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