Green Book

Green Book

2018 Ranked

So cringeworthy, heavy-handed, safe, tone-deaf and overall just all around morally reprehensible that I’m not even surprised awards voters love it, but what’s even worse about Green Book is the fact that films like this still even get made in this day and age when we’ve just gotten BLINDSPOTTING and Get Out within the past two years (even Sorry to Bother You, while inconsistent tonally and thematically, is still far more insightful and uncompromising in tackling racism than this is). This is the kind of film that makes higher class white liberals feel good about themselves because “they’re not like that.” As mentioned by Don Shirley's family, this is a film that fabricates multiple events to make Frank ‘Tony Lip’ Vallelonga look like a decent person despite being racist (which isn’t surprising given that one of the three screenwriters is the real life son of Frank).

Of course, there are many people that love this film who will tell you, “It’s not supposed to be about the racial politics. It’s about the buddy road trip,” and will call people who dislike it “cynical,” similar to 2017’s THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, where that film’s supporters defended its tone-deaf depiction of PT Barnum by saying “It’s just aiming to be a fun musical and not a serious biopic,” and also called people who disliked that “cynical.” Well, to that I ask: Why would you even make a film based on real life events if you’re going to completely fabricate the most important aspects? Why not just make a buddy road trip film centered around two fictional characters? Why not make a musical centered around a fictional circus owner? Why do you have to glorify despicable people and disrespect people who are actually decent? It’s just really baffling and misguided.

Even with all of the above mentioned, Green Book fails in just about every other area. It’s so flatly directed - occasionally leaning into melodramatic or sentimental territory - and shot, very tonally inconsistent, has stale editing, cliché dialogue, stereotypical caricatures and cringeworthy attempts at humor. It feels/looks less like a feature film and more like an overproduced television sitcom. The thing is also far too long at a 130 minute runtime, and inconsistently paced on top of that.

The only redeeming qualities are a few of the performances. Mahershala Ali does the best he can with his weakly written role and turns in a great performance (albeit not nearly as great as he was in Moonlight), Viggo Mortensen, while he has his few moments, is mostly just decent at best (though that can be blamed more on the writing and directing because he’s done so much better), and Linda Cardellini is quite good, especially when you factor in the little amount that she has to work with.

In a year featuring multiple films that tackle racial politics in depth and with sensitivity, especially BLINDSPOTTING, it’s so irritating to see a film that is so misguided, safe and overall poorly made be the one getting most of the awards attention, but given the people that the Academy is made up of, I’m not surprised in the slightest. Just because a film like Green Book was deemed culturally acceptable in the 1980s, doesn’t mean it should be now. It’s absolutely awful and misguided, and the kind of garbage that makes racists and higher class white liberals want to pat themselves on the back.

I know that there are many genuinely good people out there who were moved by Green Book as a feel good buddy road trip film, and if you are one of those people, it’s absolutely 100% fine if you enjoyed it. That said, in a year when we’ve gotten so many great films with so many diverse perspectives and unique voices, do you honestly think that this should be in awards contention?

Think about that.

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