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The Green Book

Don Shirley (Mahershela Ali) was a brilliant pianist who headed the Don Shirley Trio. In 1961, he decides to take his band into the deep South and hires Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortenson), a bouncer, to drive him. Shirley had hoped that his concert tour would help change the racist practices. “Inspired by true events”, the movie tells the story of the friendship that develops between Shirley and Vallelonga. There has been a fair amount of controversy surrounding the film, given that the director admittedly did not consult with Shirley’s family to verify the events portrayed in the story (and the family did not agree with some of what was presented). However, in spite of any shortcomings, the performances by the two leads, particularly by Ali, are exceptional; Ali should get a best-supporting actor nomination for his work. The chemistry between the two is wonderful, and both are funny and bring witty charm to the story. The story seems a bit too smooth at times, but it also is the right movie that is needed given all of the polarization that is occurring. Thumbs up for a movie that is not perfect but uses two amazing leads to tell an uplifting story of how two very different people developed a lifelong friendship.

About Gary Burkholder

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