I recently watched Green Book, which tells the true story of African-American pianist, Dr Don Shirley, and Italian-American bouncer, Tony Lip, who takes on the job as Dr Don Shirley’s chauffeur as he embarks on a tour of concert venues in the deep south of America in 1962.
The Oscar-winning movie is a heartwarming tale of two men who were meant to cross paths. On a physical level, pre-conceived notions would brand the duo a mismatched pairing – Tony Lip, a working-class Italian-American bouncer and Dr Don Shirley, a highly-educated African-American classical pianist.
But the bond that they share is one that is truthfully a spiritual bond, on a soul level – for both the real-life Dr Don Shirley and Tony Lip, and the actors that play them Mahershala Ali (Dr Don Shirley) and Viggo Mortensen (Tony Lip). In Green Book, Dr Don Shirley specifically seeks out Tony Lip, as he has heard through several different sources about the bouncer and makes a beeline for him to be his chaffeur on a concert tour of the racially-charged deep south of America.
Tony Lip’s role in Dr Don Shirley’s life is much more than “chauffeur”, but he becomes his true companion – protecting him and saving his ass on various occassions in the movie. Similarly, Dr Don Shirley’s role in Tony Lip’s life is more than just employer, but is more of that of teacher and moral compass, if it were. Loyalty to one another is strong in both males.
Green Book goes a long way to capture the energy and essence of Dr Don Shirley and Tony Lip’s true friendship and unconditional love for one another, one that is reflective of a relationship of “brothers” on a soul level – not that of “brothers” on a physical level whereby two people can be friends one day and arch-enemies the next.
Dr Don Shirley and Tony Lip’s friendship transcends race and inequality – although this is a bone of contention at times throughout the film – because on a spiritual level, honestly those prejudices and pre-conceived notions are never part of the bond.
There’s humour in the moments that Green Book captures – especially when Tony Lip waves a piece of fried chicken in Dr Don Shirley’s face in the car and moments later, the rather prim and proper Dr Don Shirley is eating his first KFC with his hands, albeit awkwardly, and enjoying it. A funny and endearing film, Green Book is a fine example of brotherhood, friendship, companionship, loyalty and having each other’s back.
Image Credits: Universal Pictures