‘Green Book’ has its issues. Mahershala Ali is not one of them


Source: Patti Perret/Universal Pictures, Participant, and DreamWorks

Viggo Mortensen as Tony Vallelonga and Mahershala Ali as Dr. Donald Shirley in “Green Book,” directed by Peter Farrelly.

Jane Recker, Reporter

Before I start, a disclaimer.

“Green Book” tells the story of the unlikely friendship between a black, queer professional pianist and his Italian-American chauffeur as they navigate the Deep South on a musical tour. The movie has both been lauded and come under harsh criticism for its portrayal of interracial relationships and historic racism in the United States. As the human version of Wonder Bread, I don’t think it’s my place to make any kind of definitive statement about the quality of the movie in that regard.

However, as a straight woman, I feel more than equipped to thoroughly push for this movie to win Best Picture solely based on the plethora of feelings that overcame me while watching Mahershala Ali portray pianist Dr. Don Shirley.

Let us begin with the suits. As Barney Stinson once said, “Suits are full of joy. They’re the sartorial equivalent of a baby’s smile.” Well, baby, I was smiling. Every man in America needs to drag their ass to the tailor if they want any chance at love again, because after spending 130 glorious minutes watching Ali dazzle in suit after fitted suit, those of us attracted to men will no longer settle for ill-fitting Men’s Wearhouse clearance deals.

To be fair, it’s not just the suits that had me swooning. Ali made a mustard turtleneck look hot. He made a teal ascot — an ascot, I repeat — look sexy. Do you have any idea how difficult that is to do? Do you know how hard it is to wear the unwanted love-child of a tie and a scarf without looking like a complete idiot? The only other person to pull that off was Fred from “Scooby Doo” and even he doesn’t come close to the way Ali makes this castoff of the fashion industry the statement piece of the awards season.

But enough of judging the cover of this book, the content of the pages is where I really began to swoon. Shirley is a pianist. Being a musician is hot. Being a prodigious musician who can improv jazz harmonies in a bar, elicit virtuosic Chopin from a shitty piano and somehow make a trio consisting of a bass, piano and cello sound like a coherent product is a next level hot. Okay, I know I said I wouldn’t go back to the external trappings, but watching a guy confidently flick out his coattails as he sits down to create stirring music, well, I’ll have a tall glass of whatever that is.

Looking good in a tux and being able to play the piano isn’t enough though. We’ve all dated that hot musician who talked at length about his love for the earth and humankind but was really kind of an asshole. A douche Donald Shirley is not, though. No, this guy isn’t just a decent human being, he’s freaking Keats. When his driver, Tony, is struggling to express how he feels about his wife, Shirley helps Tony write love letters to her. Okay, so maybe they’re not exactly Shakespearean. In fact, Shirley suggests Tony compare his wife to the great plains of Iowa (ew). But it’s the thought that counts, and in the era of “u up” texts I know getting a love letter like the ones Shirley writes would have me in tears.

So, this awards season, vote for “Green Book.” Well, really, vote for Mahershala Ali, but for the purposes of this piece, vote for “Green Book.” Vote for beauty, vote for art, vote for love.

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