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Green Book

For many, the attitudes of the early 1960’s feel like something from another universe. Racism, homophobia and sexism were rife in an era gradually sowing the seeds of hope which could emerge out of this awful dystopia. Whilst those issues are still prevalent today, earlier decades were a bleak time for more progressive ideas to be commonly accepted. ‘Green Book’ explores these themes in an intelligent and thoughtful manner. Based on true events, it shows how far the world has come and how it should ensure such archaic thoughts need to be prevented from re-surfacing.

‘Doc’ Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) is a renowned black jazz pianist travelling America’s Deep South on an eight week concert tour. Joining him is Frank (Viggo Mortensen) an Italian bouncer from New York who acts as his chauffeur/protector. Moving through the dark recesses of the South, they face the prejudices of those they meet as well as their own. Their bond is constantly tested with the tour offering a myriad of surprises changing both men forever.

‘Green Book’ is an excellent film making use of its small group of characters. The main focus is on Don and Frank’s relationship and how it transforms over their literal and spiritual journey. Although this may send the cliché bells ringing, ‘Green Book’ succeeds due to its handling of rich material and strong performances. With Frank’s street-wise, tough demeanour a counterpart to Don’s precise and narrow world-view, the resulting personality clashes provide fascinating insight in their psyche as well as the era.

Making ‘Green Book’ even more interesting is seeing how Don has to learn to become more comfortable in his racial identity as well as Frank’s acceptance of his prejudices. Ali and Mortensen successfully embody their fractured characters with their interaction with the hate they face truly shocking. The script doesn’t pull any punches in uncovering harsh truths but has a warmness to it as the two men’s friendship develops. The era is depicted well without resorting to endless popular musical cues with the pacing just right.

‘Green Book’ has garnered much praise and it’s easy seeing why. It’s a simple but effective tale of standing up against vile bigotry and acceptance of diversity. With recent news filled with groups wanting to wind back basic rights, films such as ‘Green Book ‘reminds that going back to the past is never a good thing with common dignity for all aspects of humanity one all should strive for.

Rating out of 10: 8

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