Green Book: Film Review

I had heard so much praise about Green Book so naturally my expectations were high – yet it still managed to surpass them. I loved it and I want to see it again.

Viggo Mortensen stars as Tony, an Italian-American nightclub bouncer who is hired to be the driver and security for renowned African-American pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) as he goes on an eight-week tour of the Deep South in 1960s, when segregation is in full force. Tony begins as a racist loudmouth who can’t stop eating and eventually learns to understand and become friends with Don.

When I first read about the plot, I just assumed it would be this serious, hard-hitting drama, given the material, so the fact that it’s a comedy is surprising, but it’s just as effective in conveying its message. Even though I laughed a lot and it’s generally light-hearted in tone, there are still powerful moments that highlight how disgusting African-Americans were treated. The Green Book in the title refers to an manual listing hotels, motels and restaurants that welcome ‘coloured’ people.

The two lead characters and the relationship between them was the best thing. I enjoyed watching it develop so much. Both Mortensen and Ali play characters we’ve never seen them do before – from Mortensen as the large dim-witted knucklehead with a convincing Italian-American accent and Ali as this proper, upper class pianist who we first meet sat on a throne in his home while wearing a kimono. The dialogue between them is a joy to watch and the actors throw themselves into their characters and truly deserve their nominations. The screenplay does too.

Some critics have said that Shirley doesn’t get as much background and character development as Tony and is more of a device to help him learn and grow and become less of a ignorant racist. I didn’t think this at the time because Shirley also learns from Tony and they grow to understand each other. I just found their friendship lovely to watch.

Green Book is funny, heartwarming and filled with excellent ’60s music, but also doesn’t sugarcoat how African-Americans were treated back then. Cannot recommend enough!

Please note: Since I saw this movie in December, some negative stuff has come out about director Peter Farrelly and co-writer Nick Vallelonga so that makes liking this film a bit problematic now, but I can’t deny that I loved it.

In cinemas Wednesday 30th January 

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