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Green Book Movie Review by Ms. H

Written by RealMsH

Disclaimer:  The views expressed here are mine alone and do not represent those of

Introduction to the Green Book Movie Review by Ms. H

The Green Book movie has been released since Thanksgiving Day; however, I was in no rush to see it.  I saw the trailer and determined that this movie would not be of interest to me. After watching other movies that I preferred to see, I finally decided to see what this movie was all about -- especially since there is now Oscar buzz about it.  Was the movie worth the wait? Check out my movie review of Green Book to find out.

Plot of the Green Book Movie

Green Book is a movie that does not have an elaborate, complicated plot. The movie is set in the year 1962 and is simply about an African American pianist who hired a driver to take him to his engagements as he traveled in the deep south.  The trials and tribulations both experienced while traveling -- some good, but mostly bad are shown in the movie. The movie also included several scenarios of how they were treated by others as they traveled. Two band members usually traveled to these engagements in a separate car.

Acting Skills Displayed in the Green Book Movie

For the most part, the actors did an adequate job in their roles.  I was relieved that Mahershala Ali did not use a fake African accent for his role.  Personally, I felt that he was rather stiff in saying his lines -- almost talking as if he was a robot of sorts. I kept waiting for the part in the movie that showed his acting abilities were worthy of a Golden Globe nomination -- which finally happened.  If you watch the Green Book movie, you will probably realize that Oscar-worthy moment of acting -- even if it lasted only a few minutes.

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Viewpoint of Story in the Green Book Movie

The Green Book movie is told from the viewpoint of the driver, Frank "Tony Lip" Vallelonga, who is a white male played by Viggo Mortensen. He was portrayed in the movie as being initially racist who eventually formed a friendship with the “Doc” Don Shirley character played by Mahershala Ali.  The movie was doable as told from Vallelonga’s angle, but I think more knowledge about the famous pianist could have been shared if it was told from the “Doc” Don Shirley’s character viewpoint -- especially since he was the one who mainly withstood and suffered from being treated in a derogatory, prejudiced manner because of his race.

Additionally, if the movie was told from “Doc” Don Shirley’s viewpoint, I think you would learn more about his background firsthand instead of in a roundabout way through discussions with his driver.  Even though the movie was mostly about “Doc” Don Shirley -- little was found out about him directly.  Instead, the audience learned more about his driver, the driver’s family etc. instead of the famous pianist.

Friendship between Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga and “Doc” Don Shirley’s Characters

In my opinion, I did not feel there were any true camaraderie between the two characters on the movie screen.  Sometimes, I can sense the camaraderie between characters -- which unfortunately, I did not while watching the two interact with each other on film.

For the most part, the driver was being chastised and treated almost as a child by the pianist.  Conversely, the driver acted somewhat as a savior for the pianist even going so far as instructing him not to go out alone in some areas without him.  

As a movie audience member, I could tell that these were actors simply performing a job by doing this movie who would probably part ways after the movie is over.  In fact, Viggo Mortensen, who played the role of the driver, was heard while promoting the movie using an inappropriate racial slur. He apologized for saying it -- but only after he was found out and it was being publicized.  Unfortunately, I think this showed his true character since it is those times when an actor or anyone for that matter  say something that is unscripted where his or her real character comes through.

My Questions Relative to the Green Book Movie

Questions that came to mind as I watched the Green Book movie were: Spoiler alerts:  Why couldn’t the famous pianist travel with his other two band members? As a member of the band, wouldn’t “Doc” Don Shirley have been closer to them instead of the driver he hired?  If he hired the driver -- why did he eventually drive his own car during the movie? If he was so astute on using a Steinway piano during his performances, why did one scene show him playing on some other type of piano instead? Did the pawnshop couple as well as  “Doc” Don Shirley really show up for Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga’s family Christmas dinner, or were these scenes added to somehow pull the movie storylines together coherently. There are other questions as well, but I will stop here.

Assessment of the Green Book Movie

The above being said and asked, I think the movie was worth my wait in seeing it.  The Green Book movie accomplished its goal to show the discrimination and unfair treatment of the African American pianist.  Of course a few scenes may have been changed for dramatic effect and there may have been some character changes/consolidations as well.

The Green Book movie attempted to end on a somewhat upbeat, positive note given the dark, bleak scenarios shown during the movie.  Even though this is not a movie I would probably see again, I think it is worth at least a first look for those who want to take a glimpse of what happened during the life of “Doc” Don Shirley.

At the end of the day, the Green Book movie is after all just a movie.  It can serve as an impetus for one to do further research on the famous pianist to get a more realistic view of who he was as a person. In other words, If you want to learn more about “Doc” Don Shirley as well as his driver Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga --  the Green Book movie could serve as a passable starting point.

Rating of the Green Book Movie

Based on a rating of 1 star to 5 stars with 5 stars being the highest, I rate the Green Book movie 3 stars.

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