Green Days by the River is a 2017 coming of age film, based on a popular book of the same name, set in 1950’s Trinidad. Shellie, a teenager with an ailing father, is navigating his future – both his career and education, and romantically. On the surface, this is about his relationships with two girls, Joan and Rosalie, but really, it’s about his relationship with Rosalie’s father, Mr. Gidharee – his wealthy land-owning neighbour who takes him under his wing.
Things go sour, and without spoiling it, it almost feels like Shellie is going to end up like the protagonist in Late Marriage. I say almost, because there is one subtle moment in the second-last scene that hints that Shellie may not submit to his fate, and that the power dynamics may turn.
It’s a beautifully shot movie, filmed in Trinidadian Creole – while it’s related to English, you’ll probably need subtitles if you’re not familiar with the language. Racial relations in Trinidad run through the background of this film, between Indian, African, and mixed identities, as well as the choices one needs to make to survive and to thrive. Best of all, the teenagers are real teenagers – they’ve navigating the world in their own messy, confused ways, and you can see how much they all pick up from the adults around them – good and bad.