Green Book shares a true story worth knowing


I had no idea what I was about to watch as my family and I stumbled into the car and headed toward the theater. It was my mom’s birthday, so the movie choice was up to her, and all I knew was that we were going to see some movie called Green Book. What I didn’t know was that I was about to be totally captivated for two hours and ten minutes by a movie I went into knowing nothing about.

Based on a true story, Green Book focuses in on the story of an African-American pianist and his tough-talking Italian-American driver from the Bronx in 1962. I normally would not consider myself a nonfiction-movie fanatic, but this true story abducted both my attention and emotions.

Setting the tone for the movie based out of the 1960s, the film opens up with a scene from a high-class club where one of the main characters, Tony (Lip) Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), currently works as a bouncer. From the very beginning, you can tell that Tony is not a man to be messed with. 

This movie has the power to leave a mark on you, and a good one at that.”

The movie then carries on, and it becomes apparent that the club where Tony works will be closing for two months for renovations; therefore, in order to provide for his wife, Dolores (Linda Cardellini), and two kids, Tony must find a temporary job. Being known as a tough guy and a good driver by many, Tony is then called in for an interview to be a driver for Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali).

Tony is then caught by surprise as he becomes aware that Dr. Don Shirley is in fact not a doctor, but an amazing African-American pianist who is about to embark on a two-month tour through the deep south. Shirley hires Tony, and the two very different men start on their journey through the south. As they encounter several situations full of racism and danger, the two men from different worlds form an unexpected but heartwarming bond.

With a similar plot, the movie reminded me of the movie Driving Miss Daisy, but with the roles reversed. With the true story aspect, I found all of my emotions coming out in the theater through each scene. I would find myself laughing as Tony would say or do some bizarre thing, gripping my seat as the two encountered danger, filling with happiness as the two became closer, and nearly crying as Shirley was constantly treated in heinous ways.

The movie was an awakening to how things used to be, and it showed the power of friendship. Dr. Don Shirley had always been sort of a lone-wolf, but throughout the movie, he realizes just how much he needs a friend. And, starting the movie not too fond of African-Americans, Tony’s mind changes as his bond with Shirley strengthens. It is an unpredicted friendship that has so many lessons to offer to an audience.

One of the key parts of the movie that made it not good, but great, was the phenomenal acting. I found myself finding the movie to be so real, I almost felt like I was there with them. 

I normally would not consider myself a nonfiction-movie fanatic, but this true story abducted both my attention and emotions.”

Playing the very serious, quiet, and introverted, Dr. Don Shirley, Mahershala Ali portrayed the character in such a real-life way. The actor’s real personality was masked as he fully became his character and fell into his role of an African-American pianist in the controversial times of the 1960s. I was able to become emotionally attached to the character, and his emotions became one with mine; I could feel everything Ali was portraying through his character. From the sadness to the seriousness to the witty humor, I was able to feel all sides of Dr. Don Shirley.

On the opposite side of the personality scale was Tony Lip, and Viggo Mortensen did an astounding job at playing this role. Tony was this tough guy from the Bronx, yet he had a soft heart. He was constantly doing things that just made you laugh, and that is one thing Mortensen did a great job of holding up. He played the husband, father, bruiser, and kind-hearted, humorous friend, and I was able to pick up on each part of his personality. Along with also creating an emotional connection with him, I was also able to clearly notice how Tony was changing throughout the movie. Mortensen was able to make this change blatantly obvious in obscure ways and by the end of the movie, he had me wishing I could be his friend too. 

Green Book was full of all different scenes that were mixed together in just the right way. I could feel my heart about to pound through my chest during intense scenes, and I constantly found myself smiling at the lighter scenes. 

The movie was everything a person could ask for. Action, anger, amazement, and anticipation filled different scenes. Sadness, sorrow, love, and happiness made up others. I left the theater feeling better than I did when I got there, and I felt as if I had witnessed a story that was well worth knowing.

If you are looking to watch something with real importance and something that will keep you entranced throughout the whole movie, Green Book is well worth your time. This movie has the power to leave a mark on you, and a good one at that.