13th Dec2018

‘Green Book’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco, Dimiter D. Marinov, Mike Hatton, P.J. Byrne, Joe Cortese, Maggie Nixon, Von Lewis, Jon Sortland, Don Stark, Anthony Mangano, Paul Sloan, Quinn Duffy | Written by Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie | Directed by Peter Farrelly

green-book-poster

Peter Farrelly’s Green Book is an uplifting and compelling dramatic feature from one half comedic duo of the Farrelly brothers. Directors of cult and financially acclaimed classics such as Kingpin, Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary, Green Book is the first foray into dramatic territory. The end result is undoubtedly conventional, yes. But a splendidly crafted poignant rendition of a comely picture…

In 1962, Tony “Tony Lip” Vallelonga, a tough bouncer, is looking for work with his nightclub is closed for renovations. The most promising offer turns out to be the driver for the African-American classical pianist Don Shirley for a concert tour into the Deep South states. Although hardly enthused at working for a black man, Tony accepts the job and they begin their trek armed with The Negro Motorist Green Book, a travel guide for safe travel through America’s racial segregation. Together, the snobbishly erudite pianist and the crudely practical bouncer can barely get along with their clashing attitudes to life and ideals. However, as the disparate pair witness and endure America’s appalling injustices on the road, they find a newfound respect for each other’s talents and heart to face them together. In doing so, they would nurture a friendship and understanding that would change both their lives.

Green Book dazzles in two terrific performances from Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. The former a sure nod for an Academy Award nomination with Mortensen putting forth a beautifully naive and adroit yet charming performance as charismatic extraordinaire Tony Lip. Woefully ignorant, yet deeply impassioned to his social hub and territorial approach to life and his family, thus creating a graceful story arc that is seductive in its warming towards a relatively contumacious character. Ali also impresses with a seismic performance that evokes a multitude of relevant social issues ranging from gender politics and racial oppression that is, of course, the main theme of Farrelly’s film. The themes Conveyed in a charismatic and elegant performance shakes the ground in the second and third act from a farcical, albeit engaging venture into a deeply resonating picture of morally conscious resonation. Without Ali Green Book simply would not work, he is the key and the quiet aspect that is the heart of deeply affecting and emotionally charged the picture seeps into. The delivery of dialogue is superb, it is intoxicating and hypnotising to bear witness.

The comedy isn’t defamatory to the issues present, never leading race nor the themes to result of any jokes. Yes, such themes are discussed and used in a comedic manner but jocular more than anything. It is nuanced and balanced inbetween heartfelt drama and beautiful poignancy; never crude nor insensitive to the impact Green Book holds.

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