In 1962, Tony "Tony Lip" Vallelonga, a tough bouncer, is looking for work when his nightclub is closed for renovations. The most promising offer turns out to be the driver for the African-American classical pianist Don Shirley for a concert tour into the Deep South states. Although hardly enthused at working for a black man, Tony accepts the job and they begin their trek armed with The Negro Motorist Green Book, a travel guide for safe travel through America's racial segregation. Together, the snobbishly erudite pianist and the crudely practical bouncer can barely get along with their clashing attitudes to life and ideals. However, as the disparate pair witness and endure America's appalling injustices on the road, they find a newfound respect for each other's talents and start to face them together. In doing so, they would nurture a friendship and understanding that would change both their lives.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Green Book is a wonderful story of overcoming self-condemnation, and the resulting freedom it provides. As the film begins, Tony is locked in a prison of judgment and rejection, not from any conscious effort on his own but rather his circumstances and environment. As the self-assured and self-aware character of Dr. Shirley is introduced into Tony's life, Tony embarks on a journey of self-discovery in which he is forced to confront his own preconceived notions which ultimately stem from his skewed view of himself. As Dr. Shirley helps Tony to see himself as a man beyond his own limiting thoughts, Tony is finally able to step into his true nature as friend to Dr. Shirley.
Everywhere in this film we are reminded that people are complicated, but beyond these complications we are also reminded that everyone is the same, just looking for love and acceptance. The scene where Dolores reads Tony's letter to her cousins is spectacular in this regard. It's interesting that none of the other reviews mention the YMCA scene and aftermath, which for me was the pinnacle moment that the power shifted for these two characters confronting their own strengths and weaknesses.
This film is simply wonderful in its portrayal of humanity, and the people we need in our lives. While it comes to light that Tony's wife Dolores is completely aware of her husband's imperfections and shortcomings, she loves him just the same. But it is confrontation, not love, that is necessary to bring about Tony's redemption, demonstrating that the people who spur us to deep, personal growth are never who or what we expect.
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