Jacob Richardson | 18/01/2019
A surprisingly funny, heartfelt and emotional journey.
When working class Italian-American bouncer, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) is offered a job driving African-American classical pianist on a tour of deep south American venues in the 1960s, his potential financial issues stemming from a temporary closure of his full time nightclub workplace seem solved. But for this somewhat racist bouncer, driving Dr Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) through such a firestorm of southern racism turns out to be much more dangerous, much funnier and, ultimately, much more life changing than originally expected.
Peter Farrelly delivers a truly heartwarming tale with Green Book. It’s a movie with a message, as to be expected from a film that has generated this much Oscar buzz. However, unlike many message-driven films, it doesn’t feel the need to jam that message down your throat at every instance.
Instead, with Green Book, you are much more likely to find yourself laughing all the way through.
That’s because the odd couple dynamic is played so well by Mortensen and Ali. Mortensen is the rough and tumble Italian-American immigrant, with a big heart and an even bigger stomach. When he isn’t putting his foot in his mouth with what he says or punching out yuppie youngsters, he is shovelling an assortment of delectable foods into his mouth; meatball subs, fried chicken, steak, pasta, and more.
On the other hand, Ali is a gentile classical musician, who has never touched fried chicken in his life. His apartment is an assortment of exotic, esoteric goods arrayed in perfect display condition, and his mannerisms, much like his piano playing, are absolutely on point.
Together, they each teach one another a whole lot about life. Watching it play out on screen, one gets not just a sense of the friendship between these two men, but also a sense of the period and the racial vilification that was rampant.
There have been and will be many words written about the controversies surrounding this movie. The family of Dr. Shirley have complained that it is a inaccurate representation of the relationship between the two men, and prominent black critics have excoriated the white male perspective of the movie. In the end though, Green Book is undeniably funny, deeply moving and a spectacular, beautiful time at the cinema, and should be at the top of everyone’s ‘To See’ list.
Green Book is an Oscar frontrunner, and it’s easy to see why when the movie is so funny, heartfelt and affecting.