Directed by: Peter Farrelly
Written by: Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly
Featuring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco, Dimiter D. Marinov
Tony “Tony Lip” Vallelonga, is looking for a job after the nightclub he works at as a bouncer shuts down for renovations. Out of the blue he ends up being offered the job of driving and ‘minding’ an African American classical pianist Don Shirley who is going on a concert tour into the Deep South states, where Jim Crow laws are in force. Tony accepts the job despite being a racist and to men start the journey in the South guided by the Green Book, a travel guide helping African Americans find safe places to stay in the South. Don and Tony are truly chalk and cheese, will the journey and all the prejudices they encounter make them or break them?
Clearly the lead actors, Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are top-level actors and they both show this in Green Book. The story revolves around these two men and focuses on their relationship on a long road-trip so everything about Peter Farrelly’s real-life story stands or falls on their performances.
From this point of view Green Book stands tall and both Ali and Mortensen and great screen presences that are easy to watch and make the experience pleasurable.
The racism on display in the Deep South of the United States
in the very year I was born in 1962, is perhaps not as shocking as the makers
think, as it is still clearly a thing in the modern world and people who can
read and research or indeed watch or read modern fiction will know that this
was going on and how it was supported by the majority white population in this
areas without question. So, what is Green Book trying to say?
Well if Tony Lip was as racist and bigoted as suggested then it is how a dip into some real racism in the home of segregation made the scales fall from his eyes and changed him as a person. Maybe or perhaps the uptight and prissy Don Cherry was shown a different way of thinking and living, perhaps making the scales the fall from his eyes? Probably.
You must be honest this is not a new idea or type of film, so it has to say or do something entirely different. Unfortunately, some of this is manufactured, apparently Cherry was not as unaware of the lives of ‘ordinary’ folk as made out, so his outlook and life-view were written in to make a dramatic point. A black man with no clue about black culture in the USA, as a white British man I find this unlikely.
We are treated to some good-old-boy racist cops and the rather clumsily a ‘real’ good cop when the men get back up east. Not subtle at all.
That’s the problem with Green Book, the ideas, the story and message are all laudable and put into dramatic form enjoyable and this film was enjoyable but there is nothing original on display here and it was certainly nothing I have not seen before. Green Book looks great, harking back to the old days of the 60s States, it shows the terrible inherent racism in some classes of the US public and highlights the different types of bravery of two entirely