I liked “Green Book.”
There, I said it. I liked “Green Book.” I saw it with the wife a couple of months ago, and we both agreed it was a quality film. In fact, I just intentionally couched that language, so lemme write some of that again. I LOVED “Green Book.” Loved. I thought the acting was top shelf (special nod to Linda Cardellini). I thought the costumes, the design were exemplary. And, honestly, I dug the narrative. Did it cross my mind that this was, ultimately, yet another story of a white guy [saving/teaching/uplifting] a black person? Yes. But for two hours, I somewhat set that aside to eat popcorn and pass a rainy Southern California day with a movie.
Then, the film ended.
First thing I did (as I usually do) is Google the story. And that’s when it all started getting murky. I’m OK with movies taking liberties. But, man, this movie took l-i-b-e-r-t-i-e-s. One after another after another after another. The relationship between the two men: Exaggerated, times 1,000. The relationship Don Shirley had with his family: Created. The role of the Green Book: Unexplained, times 1,000,000. I can go on and on and on, but—and maybe this is the journalist in me speaking—I can’t really digest directors and producers setting aside a true story to tell a true story. I have similar issues with “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which mixed and matched all sorts of facts in order to make Queen’s Live Aid gig seem to be this culmination of all sorts of circumstances that, eh, weren’t actually circumstances (Spoiler: Freddie Mercury wasn’t diagnosed with AIDS until two years after the show).
It all reminds me of what goes down as perhaps my all-time, all-time, all-time least-favorite flick, the brutal-beyond-brutal offering that was, “We Are Marshall.” That film tells the story of the Marshall University football team plane crash, and spares no expense to get everything incorrect. It’s an ode to fabricated bullshit, and were I a family member of a deceased player, I’d be livid over the taking of a legitimately heartbreaking story and turning it into nonsense.
And, really, that’s the problem with “Green Book.” It is a beautiful film. It is beautifully acted. It will make white people feel good about the bonds of friendship and giving your black co-worker a pound at the office coffee machine.
But it’s fabricated nonsense, heavily sanitized to manipulate the emotions of people …
… like me.