Films depicting racism have got a lot of attention for portraying the hardships of people belonging to different communities. But very few made it to winning the Oscars. The 2019 Academy Awards took everyone by surprise as the film Green Book, directed by Peter Farrelly, won three Oscars for Best picture, Original screenplay by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly and Actor in a supporting role by Mahershala Ali.
Green Book, based on true story, talks about Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), an Italian-American club guard who is hired as a driver. He is also assigned with the duty to guard a talented black pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) on a concert tour around America in the early 1960s.
Tony is a white man, who has a family and belongs to working-class. Don on the other hand is black, wealthy, unmarried, well-spoken, and dignified. Tony never accepted people belonging to the black community in his life basically due to the circumstances he has been through where most people are taught to develop hatred towards them. It is shown in one of the opening scenes when Dolores (Linda Cardellini), Tony’s wife serves two black plumbers glasses of water while they fix something in her kitchen. When her husband finds the glasses in the sink, he immediately throws them away. His hatred for the community has blinded him to the point where he no longer sees them as equals.
Tony, who has his own prejudices towards black people, is forced to accept the position of a driver and as a guard because he has no other options.
The audience will not be surprised when it comes to the story, as most might be able to predict what could happen next. The journey of two itself is quite enjoyable as the story progress. While Tony works to protect his boss, the two men also embark on a personal journey together, addressing and revaluating their preconceptions and identities in society. They naturally end up forming a kind of beautiful friendship.
The film elegantly examines various aspects of life. What I feel is that the film’s popularity is largely due to Ali and Mortensen’s unique chemistry and outstanding performances, which help the simple plot and screenplay to bring the characters to life. Apart from the plot, director has given due importance to the cinematographic elements by bringing back the lifestyle and setting of 1960s. As a result, each shot is worth noting because each scene has its own beauty and relevance.
Green Book was not only a comedy-drama to me as it had its own way of conveying a very important message that we humans, no matter what, are all part of the same race called humanity.
Image credits official Facebook page of Green Book.