A Look Back At The Oscar Nominees : The Warmth Of Green Book
courtesy of Universal Pictures
courtesy of Universal
While we continue our series before Hollywood’s big night in the Academy Awards i’m very proud to be the one to be giving you my thoughts on the wonderful film. Known as Green Book the film was eloquently performed, the script felt authentically written and the story and it’s themes were so heartwarming. Soon as I saw it I knew it was my favorite film of 2018.
Green Book is a 2018 American biographical comedy-drama film directed by Peter Farrelly written by Nick Vallelonga, Peter Farrelly and Brian Hayes Currie. The film stars Viggo Mortensen as Tony Vallelonga, Mahershala Ali as Don Shirley and Linda Cardellini as Doloris Vallelonga. Set in 1962, the film is inspired by the true story of a tour of the Deep South between African-American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), an Italian-American bouncer who served as Shirley's driver and bodyguard.
Now I’ve seen the film twice. Both times the film has gotten better and better. I was able to pick up on a lot more the second go around. With specific shots, set ups, pay offs and the whole subtly within the film. Now I’ll start by saying I know many people felt the film never really tackled the idea of racism however to me it was able to do just that without trying so hard to do it and making it’s message less so of a message and more like a lesson to learn as Tony does in the film. This film starting from the direction which was extravagantly done by Peter Farrelly, who finds the perfect balance of light hearted moments and very tense material when needed but still making me feel warm. The film spoke to me and I don’t mean in a pretentious film critic kind of way I meant I felt in my heart reaching out to me and never letting go it was like the closer these characters continued on their journey the more interesting the story got. Farrelly found a way to use preferential vision which worked well for scenes [LIGHT SPOILERS TO FOLLOW FROM HERE ON OUT] Where Shirley who mentions a pet peeve early on the film deals with exactly that later on, which gave so much pay off in double. To not only the character but for the story as well. You can also feel Farrelly strong sense of dialogue through the slow development of the journey of the road trip with these two characters whom grow into a bond the longer they spent time together. Which is the best part of the film and sells you not only the characters but the story you’re about to watch. The story is expertly crafted from the subtle scenes of racism in the beginning. With the way the glasses are strongly used to show where our main character Tony stands and how he feels about these people and even Shirley himself who he doesn’t share a sandwich with even though it was meant for him. To the growing rise of it in the middle with constant degradation Shirley receives after his performances, like the first time he tried to use restroom and the owner of the house told him he’ll wait until he returns from his business in hotel a half hour away. All the way to the building crescendo of the scene in which he stands up for himself at the restaurant. The subtly is strong but when the movie wants you to see what you need to see it does it for instance the first time you hear Shirley play and you feel like the people he’s playing to, probably thinking is this guy really that good? I mean he lives on a roof of a beautiful place he has a thrown and yet he still has to drink away his problems or feel out of place every single moment of his life. Then as soon has his fingers glide across the keys you find that not only in your heart but something happens to your spirit and it’s like the movie opens up says “I want you to feel this” and it explains why it feels that through the story.
The performances were amazing from Ali and Mortensen. To start with Mortensen, his accent is so much fun I loved hearing him say everything he said in that movie the way he said. His character arc was the best by far and I loved seeing his growth throughout the development of the movie. He started distrusting his own boss in a scene specifically where he takes the wallet as he leaves him in the car to use the restroom. Ali with every scold and glance did so much acting with looks that words couldn’t match and when he did speak you know he wanted to be heard. Like outside in the rain after they leave a prison. Or when he takes a swig from his drink and you know there’s something deeper going on with the character of Shirley that still needs to come out of it shell. Their chemistry was amazing. However another shining light in the film was Tony’s wife and family who added bits of comedy and levity as Linda Cardinelli’s reading of the letters always added a sense of hope and love to a sometimes very heavy material in what they dealt with on the road. Farrelly got the best out of everyone, by not wasting any time on any character that didn’t need it and made sure every time they hit the screen it counted.
The technical aspect of the film there were very impressive shots in the movie such as the cinematography and the way it played transitions in a comedic aspect and a dramatic aspect. The colors were vibrant always popping with the color of the car juxtaposed with the clothes of Tony and Don. There was a specific transition towards the end of the film in which Don and Tony are trying to return home. The transition cuts from Tony driving to Don taking the wheel getting them home. Now to any audience viewer this could mean nothing but this comes in at the end which happens to just create the perfect way to encapsulate the end of the journey with Shirley driving. Usually this is the portion to which i’d find some shortcomings of the film but I couldn’t really find any when I was watching.
Overall the film made me film warm. It showed me how it felt and let me in slowly but surely just like it’s characters did. It made me feel included and apart of the journey the characters had gone on. The film didn’t preach it’s message it trusted you to figure it out on your own. This film started out good but when the movie became great during a pay off that occurs later in the film. Dealing with a police officer whom does a service for them that juxtaposes a scene earlier in the film. I’m glad to proclaim that this is not only my most favorite film of last year but also the warmest of this year’s Oscars.
Written By William Christian Praise