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The Green Book: Making Hollywood Great Again

One of the main contenders for the Oscar of this year is simple, sweet, and therefore paradoxically radical.


Italian-American Tony Vallelong suddenly loses his job as a bouncer at the club - the institution is closed indefinitely, and Tony needs money all the time. An enterprising and savvy by nature, he gets a job as a driver for an African-American musician, Don Shirley - despite the fact that he does not like eggplants at all. Outrageous and deliberately distancing himself from ethnicity, Don, together with his small group, is going to arrange a tour of the southern states of America - where the black guy might need the brute force of Italian bouncers. Tony and Don go on a long trip, which, of course, will change their lives forever.

Frame from the film "Green Book"

Frame from the film "Green Book"

Tony Vallelonga is an extraordinary person, to say the least. A talkative Italian from New York, in the sixties he worked as a bouncer at the club and, of course, had connections with the mafia. Then he suddenly made friends with Francis Ford Coppola and retrained as a character actor - played a small role in “The Godfather”, a bigger role - in “The Soprano Clan”, appeared in “Glorious Guys” and “Donnie Brasco” (he played everywhere he knew who) . And somewhere between these strange career transitions, I managed to travel around the country with a black musician, Don Shirley, who took it into his head to perform in those states where the problem of racism was still acute. In half a century, the son of Vallelonga, Nick, will write a script for the film about this trip - romanticized, extremely subjective and, most likely, not very sincere.

Frame from the film "Green Book"

Frame from the film "Green Book"

For this, by the way, the Green Book is criticized most of all - they say, Vallelonga writes about racism too “in white”, clearly exposing the father in a much more pleasant light than it would have cost. True, there is certainly something in their words, but I don’t feel like blaming this film. In his unwillingness to be social against the background of widespread politicization, there is something at least curious, at the most - refreshing. While the rest of white Hollywood is trying to catch the opportunistic wave and stand as if on the side of "others" (exposing themselves, in fact, where the big racists are), the Green Book, like its main character, is not ashamed of being simple and outdated.

Frame from the film "Green Book"

Frame from the film "Green Book"

Peter Farrelli treats a seemingly serious story in much the same way as he did with the eccentric comedies in the spirit of "Dumb and Dumber." Shamelessly and as straightforwardly as possible - until stupidity becomes a farce, and vulgarity turns into a charm. He cleverly dodges the temptation to draw parallels with the politics of our days, he generally racial problem does not seem too interesting. Don Shirley's drama is not a race conflict, but rather a universal problem of self-identification. The main characters could well be of any other color, sexual orientation or religion - if only there was a certain Rubicon between them, some kind of strong polarity, melting in the course of the action in a series of witty dialogues and dramatic sketches.

Frame from the film "Green Book"

Frame from the film "Green Book"

But it just so happened that of all the stereotypes in the Green Book were these two - the talkative simple-minded Italian with criminal connections and the black gay musician. Both are heroic masks, static, but colorful: for this, of course, thanks are said to the incredible central duet (because of Mortensen, the film is contraindicated in the dubbing). One image is clearly from there, from 60-x, the second is the stereotype of our days, as if the hero of all those jokes about Oscar winners. Intentionally or not, Farrelli has a very interesting eclecticism, a battle of epochs and values, in which, by the way, modernity doesn’t really win.

The Green Book fascinates the pastoral landscapes of the southern racist states, she is pleased with old great America, which the main enemy of modern Hollywood wants to return. The finale here is generally taken from a Christian Christmas comedy - one of those with funny red-green posters. The film does not proclaim the victory of modernity, it is trying to reconcile the era, to withdraw from each something useful and isolate what should have been thrown to the side of the story. In her love of peace, the picture of Farrelli was clearly late for twenty years to come out - now it is customary to be sharper, more specific and unambiguous. But this is his charm: come out then the film would be just another good-natured drama with Oscar potential. Now this is almost a radical movie. Postradical if you want.

Since 24 January at the cinema.

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Yandex ZenYandex Zen | InstagramInstagram | TelegramTelegram | TwitterTwitter


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