“Green Book” Review

By: Olivia Hultgren


Illustration by Hannah Hyytine

Illustration by Hannah Hyytine

“Green Book” is one of those movies where after you leave the theater, you aren’t sure whether you’ll laugh or cry, but you sure as hell feel good. It’s probably one of those movies you’ll see with your parents in a theater filled with elderly couples, but in truth, “Green Book” does not disappoint. 

Set in the 1960s, the true story follows Italian-American bouncer, Tony “Lip” Vallelonga, a fast-talking bouncer-turned-chauffeur who has a bit of a backwards view of African Americans. He is recruited by world-class African American pianist Don Shirley to be his driver on a tour through the Deep South. What unfolds is a beautiful, heartwarming, and sometimes heartbreaking look at the friendship that changed these men’s lives forever. It’s a career-defining performance for Viggo Mortensen, who is outrageously charming as Lip. Mahershala Ali is equally compelling as Shirley, portraying the famous piano player with an eloquence that contrasts hilariously with Mortensen’s messy Lip.

Throughout the movie, change buds incrementally within both characters. Shirley teaches Lip how to write love letters to his wife. Lip introduces Shirley to Southern fried chicken. Yet these funny, genuine moments are undercut with serious tones, as Lip begins to understand Shirley’s complicated lifestyle as an upper-class, highly educated Black man who struggles to identify with his own culture. In the end, it’s more than a backwards “Driving Miss Daisy.” It’s a tale of two men from wildly different backgrounds, forced to become friends, who in the end discover they want to be.

Wake Mag