In this film, based on real-life events, Shirley was an educated and very talented man. He was celebrated all over the world for his musical talents and had performed for kings and queens. However, when he traveled to the southern part of America all people saw was a black man in the segregated states. He traveled in a chauffeur driven car, and wore the finest clothing but even so, he was not allowed to eat in the finest restaurants or sleep in the best hotels. Vallelonga was recommended to Dr. Shirley because he was known for having a cool head in stressful situations.
Reluctant at first to take the job, Vallelonga relents and the two set out for the deep south along with "The Negro Motorist Green Book" – a guide to restaurants and hotels that Blacks could go to while traveling. Along their journey, Shirley helps educate Vallelonga while Vallelonga introduces Shirley to a different philosophy and outlook on life (as well as fried chicken). For each man, it becomes an eye-opening experience as to "how the other half lives and thinks" and sparks a lasting friendship.
While there is a supporting cast, this movie is focused on Mortensen's and Ali's characters and the bond they form. It is not surprising that both men were nominated for Oscars for their performances as both were excellent and memorable. Mortensen embodies the demeanor of a typical 1960's Italian American living in the five boroughs with his own prejudices and a colorful language. Ali is refined and debonair and somewhat pretentious, a rarity amongst 1960's Negros. Each character is nuanced and the effect they each have on one another spills over to the audience throughout. Ali has had exceptional roles in the past few years and this one is no exception. His Oscar was certainly well deserved (The some might argue Richard E. Grant should have won).
As this film gives us glimpses of what is supposed to be the countryside of the southern portion of the United States, the 2160p video quality offers some excellent picturesque scenery with lush greens and sharp colors. The black tones of the evening sequences are deep and true and detailed. The Dolby Atmos audio is an excellent complement to the visuals and highlights the eclectic soundtrack beautifully. The music has a richness and fullness to it while the dialogue is crisp and clean. The Combo pack includes only three extras, totaling just over 13 minutes, which for me was disappointing. They are: Virtuoso Performances, An Unforgettable Friendship and Going Beyond the Green Book. They were interesting enough but I was hoping for more.
While some argued Green Book should not have won the Best Picture Oscar I feel it is deserving of the honor. It was entertaining, and emotional while it reminded us of a time in the history of this country when some people didn't enjoy the same freedoms regardless of talent and intelligence. Above all, though it is a story about breaking down barriers to build a friendship and Mortensen and Ali did that beautifully.