Image: Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book © Property of Universal Pictures [Source: IMDB]
Based on the lives of real people. Green Book tells the fascinating story, of a working-class bouncer (Viggo Mortensen), who in the early 60s, becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist (Mahershala Ali). But the job has more to it as the pianist, Don Shirley embarks on a tour of the deep south.
Director: Peter Farrelly. Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini [12A]
Green Book told simply is yet another jab at the prone to memory loss of their past, America. A straight forward tale of awakening to the truth of a race of people who our working-class all American, Tony (Viggo Mortensen) at first doesn’t even want to drink out of his glasses. Mortensen is lost to his role, completely disguised as a complete charismatic jug head. Both in body and mind, he absolutely perfects this part and the ultimate story of Tony that is being told. It’s an arc that is told well but with little bite. Instead, we get some inclining early on to the deep seeded polite racism in casual American living at the time.
But throughout the bulk of the film. Tony never seems to bat an eyelid at anything to do with this face to face confrontation with his own discrimination. The awakening moment is gradually found but we don’t see or understand the confrontation within Tony on his upbringing/societal pressure and the reality. Which does ultimately detract from the overall journey some, as there is little drama to be found around the core issue which also detracts from the could be overly emotional ending which doesn’t carry the weight it thinks it does.
Despite this, an argument can be made for the discrimination story is on the back seat of the car journey. While driving up front is another simple story of loneliness and feeling as though you don’t belong anywhere. This is captured through Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali). His performance is equally magnetic as Mortensen and finds us a relatable edge to Green Book. He follows a struggle of a man who is ousted because of his colour of skin but also finds himself lost as he is homosexual. Which is told with razor-sharp wit and nuance. The irony of playing black and white keys to white audiences that won’t let him eat in their restaurants, and the being completely out of touch with black culture as he tries his hardest to be ‘white’ is not lost.
This same kind of slightly dark humour is found throughout the entire picture. Humour, in general, was surprisingly present, as the film finds a gentle, entertaining and hilarious address despite its serious topic, without trying too hard. Ultimately Green Book is an enthrallingly entertaining picture that not only convincingly and passionately tells the story of two life long friends, with a glimpse into the inner struggles Don Shirley faced and the shining light Tony was to those in his life. But it handles serious subjects with care and without laying it on too thick. It gets the message across with a gentle embrace and a contagious smile, which is what wins over anger and hate any day.