Cast: Viggo Morteensen, Mahershala Ali and Linda Crdellini
Director: Peter Farrelly
Genre: Biographical, Comedy and Drama
Running Time: 130 Minutes
Opens: January 24th
Based on a true story “Green Book” is a road movie that captures the unlikely friendship between a New York bouncer Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) and African-American pianist Dr. Don Shirley’s (Mahershala Ali). Tony works at the Copacabana and is looking to make some money when the club closes for repairs. These two embark on a journey of a lifetime confronting racism, intolerance, loneliness and lack of understanding in an era of segregation in the 1960s USA.
Director Peter Farrelly’s movie is all heart using humour to touch upon issues of racism and human behavior. The story offers you the ability to change your life and how you look at people.
Already revealed to be a racist (he throws away glasses used by black repairmen, badmouthing them in Italian), Tony is taken aback when an opportunity arises to serve as a driver and bodyguard for Don Shirley (Ali), the brilliant piano virtuoso and leader of a musical trio. Don Shirley agrees to a tour of the Deep South, but his record company fears the dangers that an African American might encounter so they employ the services of Tony who reluctantly takes on the job.
The concert trip lasting two months makes both Tony and Don Shirley study their own behaviour and question their own beliefs. We feel their sorrow, love and humiliation as they change each other for better. While the film is effortlessly soul-stirring, a scene in particular sums up the movie brilliantly. Shirley is sitting in front of a mirror after being bashed up by racists for entering a bar meant for white people. With tears in his eyes, he quietly uses a concealer to cover his wounds; just the way he uses his music to hide his loneliness and inner turmoil. Ali deserves an Oscar for that scene alone. His eyes do the talking. “Green Book” speaks of embracing differences, overcoming prejudices and knowing what matters the most at the end of it all. Lead actors Mortensen (already a two-time Oscar nominee) and Ali (supporting Oscar winner for “Moonlight”) are both magnificent.
The movie’s title comes from a guide book published by Black travelers who provided names, services and organizations that were safe for them during a time of legalized discrimination. The screenplay is credited to Nick Vallelonga, the son of Mortensen’s character, Tony Vallelonga along with Farrelly and writer Brian Currie. After almost sixty years society has certainly come a long way although there is still a way to go, hopefully this movie might change a few more minds.
Score: 8 out of 10