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Green Book Review – A Warm Road Trip

Green Book (2018)

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[Total: 1   Average: 4/5]

Directed By: Peter Farrelly

Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Dimeter Marinov

Language: English

Green Book is a story about friendship and about tolerance; about two men from contrasting backgrounds embarking on a road trip which changes them for good. The title comes from the travel guide of restaurants and hotels blacks were allowed to visit and stay in while travelling down south. Green Book is a true story of a tour by a classical and jazz pianist and his driver and how along the way they learn from each other and become good friends.

Set in 1962, Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) is offered the job of a driver which he reluctantly accepts to support his family during some lean months. Dr Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his associates, the Shirley Trio, are to embark on a tour Deep South and need a driver doubling up as a security guard.  How and if Don completes the tour and plays in every concert as per the contract and whether Lip reaches home for the Christmas as promised forms the rest of the plot.

Green Book is a remarkable movie where the journey is more important than the destination. One can easily guess the plot trajectory and as for the showcasing of the issues, it follows a standard template. For example, when Dolores (Linda Cardellini, Tony’s wife) asks Lip to write letters home and he is in a bit of a spot, you know the contribution Don is going to make in Lip’s life. Or when traversing through the most intensely southern states you expect racist encounters of all kinds- stark and subtle, glaring and casual- and you get all of them, one by one.

Driving Miss Daisy sprung to my mind while watching this as they both have a somewhat similar theme. Peter Farrelly has taken a very safe approach and gave a somewhat Christmasy feel by making everyone happy in the end. The messages are not stark but subtly strewed along the way making for a pleasant viewing.Peter Farrelly has blended comedy and drama very well. It is commendable that Farrelly has managed to chart out a lighter course given the potentially sensitive subject. Green Book is mild in its tone and aesthetic in its approach, given the no nonsense writing by Farrelly along with the real Lip’s son Nick Vallelonga and Brian Hayes Currie. The soundtrack, attire and the dialogues lend the movie a 60’s feel.

Everything said and praised, the best of Green Book are its two lead protagonists and their brilliant performances. Lip and Don are two guys on the opposite end of spectrum. The movie is about how they both transform and find a shared middle ground called friendship.

Lip is a blue collared Italian American who works as a bouncer for a local club. As said before the exact opposite to Don- unsophisticated, careless, sloppy, unprincipled, uneducated and white. He is prejudiced against the Afro-American people and shows a bit of racism earlier in the movie. But its mainly because of the way he has been brought up and in fact deep down he is actually a good guy. It is mainly his turnaround which is on focus. Viggo Mortensen has gained some pounds for the role and has brought out the humanity of Lip very well. Its beautiful to see him on screen and its going to be a close fight between him and Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody for Best Actor.

Don Shirley is a a world class pianist and is everything that Lip isn’t. Don is posh, suave and a principled man. He has all the wealth in the world and yet is alone. He has an interesting status- not accepted by Afro-American people for being rich and definitely not accepted by the whites for being black. The whites want to hear his music but wont extend their courtesy beyond that. Don is a complex man who because of his experiences decided to reside inside a shell which is ultimately broken by Lip’s warmth. Mahershala Ali is elegant and fabulous as a vulnerable man inside a hard shell. He will definitely win the Oscar for supporting actor role.

Other actors have also performed well, Linda as Dolores is warm and recognizes the subtle turnaround of her husband. Dimeter as Oleg has an important role and some inspiring lines.

Green Book is a good watch and brings out certain stereotypes which are still relevant. It is an inspiring story aided by remarkable performances and delicate direction. Watch it and share your rating above.

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