By Marlena B. ’20
As I sit down in the movie theater and look around, I’m not so sure what I have gotten myself into. I suddenly feel very young; everyone is over the age of 70 save myself, my family and a young couple in the very back. However, despite the occasional snores (I do not exaggerate) and the overzealous whispering of my fellow movie watchers, I can easily say that Green Book far exceeded my expectations.
The plot is based on the true story of the famous African-American pianist Dr. Don Shirley traveling with his musical trio to the deep South on a tour in 1962. For protection, Shirley hires Italian-American and Bronx native Tony Vallelonga (aka Tony Lip). Both men are well-respected in their professions: Shirley for his piano and general genius, Tony Lip for his tough attitude and even tougher fists. The movies chronicles the progression of their relationship as the two opposites get to know each other over the long car rides and, pardon the pun, the various speed bumps in their relationship.
Now, you might think this movie isn’t your cup of tea; maybe you’re much more into blockbuster action movies or rom-coms, but it is my firm belief that this movie has a little bit that appeals to every taste. You can see Tony split a few people’s faces open and then just minutes later “aww” over Tony and Dr. Shirley working together to conjure up sweet love letters to send to Tony’s wife back in the Bronx.
Adding to the appeal of Green Book was the comedy. Though slow to start and at times predictable, I really appreciated having the opportunity to see and experience both the painful struggles of the characters but also the comedy of Dr. Shirley and Tony’s relationship. A final bonus of the movie was that I thought it balanced the tragedy of Jim Crow laws and segregation with a reminder of human resilience and determination against forces of seemingly impossible opposition. For me, this movie was a reminder of the power of grace, grit and respect to challenge deeply-seeded prejudices in a day and time where violence and hatred take over the national news almost daily. Even if Green Book had an oversimplified and at times clichéd approach to the complexities of racism, my fellow moviegoers and I, all left the theater with a smile on our faces.