How Green Book be­came this year’s po­lar­iz­ing awards con­tender

StarMetro Vancouver - - DAILY LIFE - So­nia Rao

Soon af­ter we meet Tony Val­le­longa in Green Book, the Ital­ian-amer­i­can man tosses out a pair of wa­ter glasses be­cause Black re­pair­men drank out of them.

His wife fishes them out of the trash can. But by the end of the movie, which fol­lows Tony as he chauf­feurs ac­claimed jazz pian­ist Dr. Don Shirley through the Jim Crow South for a two-month con­cert tour, Tony is the one invit­ing the Black man into his home. This shouldn’t come as much of a spoiler.

Green Book, based on a true story and co-writ­ten by Tony’s son, Nick, has been pro­moted as a heal­ing tale of how the two men, played by Viggo Mortensen and Ma­her­shala Ali, over­come their dif­fer­ences and form an un­likely friend­ship in the early 1960s.

Whereas Tony is poor, crass and prej­u­diced at first, Shirley is wealthy, up­tight and wise. Each one changes by lis­ten­ing to the other — Tony teaches Shirley how to let loose, al­beit via stereo­types like eat­ing fried chicken and en­joy­ing “Black mu­sic,” and Shirley teaches Tony how to ac­cept those who aren’t like him. The movie, a buddy com­edy of sorts, has racked up ac­co­lades: it won the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val’s au­di­ence award, was named best pic­ture by the Na­tional Board of Re­view and, on Tues­day, landed on the Amer­i­can Film In­sti­tute’s Top 10 list.

But Green Book has also re­ceived its fair share of back­lash, largely from crit­ics who find fault with how it han­dles racial con­flict. Some crit­ics, like Monique Judge at the Root, feel that the movie “spoon-feeds racism to white peo­ple.” The racism seen in the movie is mild com­pared to “ac­tual racial ter­ror­ism” that Black peo­ple faced then and con­tinue to ex­pe­ri­ence, Judge ar­gues.

Read the full story at thes­

Green Book, star­ring Viggo Mortensen, left, and Ma­her­shala Ali, has re­ceived back­lash from crit­ics who find faults with how it han­dles racial con­flict.


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