Even though he is successful and well-known, it does not make pianist Dr Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) immediately free from inappropriate treatment caused by differences in skin color. For this reason, in carrying out an 8-week tour in Deep South America, he recruited Anthony Vallelonga aka Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) as his personal driver who made sure he could always perform at his destination as well as check whether the venue provided equipment according to the contract. The personality differences between Tony Lip who is more relaxed and shown to have a tendency to racist behavior with Dr Don Shirley who is more calm and educated, makes it a general formula for a Road Trip film , which in the end is accompanied by a change in their attitude.
The title of the Green Book itself is taken from a guide book called The Negro Motorist Green-Book, which is a guide for black people to be able to travel safely, comfortably, and “decently”. As a film that tells the severity of cases of racism in the 1960s, this film can provide stinging and stinging criticism that racism is a very unfounded thing, but without having to be conveyed with anger. Several times I even clapped my hands when I saw the smart but naughty moments, which reminded me of films with the theme of racism like Hidden Figures .
The road trip formula that the scriptwriters worked on went very well thanks to the brilliant performances of Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. Viggo, who I know better through his serious roles, can bring Tony Lip’s character who appears slovenly and a bit silly but it’s fun to spend time with him. On the other hand, Mahershala Ali plays Dr Don Shirley who looks more insightful and classy than Tony Lip. When compared to his performance in Moonlight which brought him various awards, I think I like this performance much more.
Some people might think that this film is about a “white savior” who eradicates racism, but I don’t see it that way. Tony Lip did save Dr Don Shirley several times from racism because that was his job while accompanying Don. For me, the one who plays an important role is that Don remembers that he wants to tour the “forbidden” area, remains patient when he is treated unfairly, harbors anger to maintain dignity, and other things. Even at the last moment he persisted and wanted to continue despite being treated badly, before Tony Lip finally decided to quit because of the inappropriate situation.
The production side also appears indulgent with nuances that match the time accompanied by music that is so pleasing to the ear. As a film that tells the story of a musician, it can also perform a musical performance beautifully, which is supported by Mahershala Ali’s convincing performance as a reliable piano player. Cinematographer Sean Porter also gave a light but so felt moment when Dr Don Shirley was finally able to blend with his “people” through a fun jamming session.
Green Room may play it safe in elevating racism, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t leave a lasting impression. Until finally when Don Shirley met Tony Lip’s family, the warmth was felt and I was able to accept the change in Tony Lip’s attitude, which was initially shown to be racist, became more open because of his road trip experience with Dr Don Shirley.