Oscar front runner GREEN BOOK, by Peter Farrelly starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali is a soothingly resonating marvel on race, class and humanity that hits the Indian screens on November 23, 2018. Here is our review of GREEN BOOK.
Dwelling in the sensitive issue of racisms wearing a feel-good buddy comedy attire, director Peter Farrelly in his first solo feature, takes a liberal approach in this mainstream cinema that confronts all the stereotypes and is remarkably so true and polite in its tone. The era depicted, the relevance of the subject matter at this moment, sense and sensibility laced with humour, a master class in acting by Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, and that rare ‘magic’ in a mainstream studio movie that we don’t get nowadays.
Writer – Director Peter Farrelly with his co writers Nick Vallelonga and Brian Currie smartly spin the 1989 masterpiece DRIVING MISS DAISY helmed by Bruce Beresford starring the incredible Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy, over here in GREEN BOOK, produced by DreamWorks Pictures in association with Amblin Partners, Participant Media, Conundrum Entertainment, Cinetic Media and distributed by Universal Pictures.
For those who are not aware, The Negro Motorist Green Book , popularly called as The Green Book, was a travel guide intended to help African American motorists avoid social obstacles prevalent during the period of turbulent racial segregation, commonly referred to as Jim Crow. The Green Book served as friendly guide that listed places to stay and tips for avoiding trouble in that era.
As the title, the issue also is perfectly timed. Racism is a time bomb that can explode anytime and continues to poison good humanitarian virtues.
When Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on The Green Book to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans. Confronted with racism, danger-as well as unexpected humanity and humor-they are forced to set aside differences to survive and thrive on the journey of a lifetime.
Presenting a dreary image of intolerance in 1962 America, GREEN BOOK apart from its relevance in today’s times as well, astonishes with the fact that Peter Farrelly – part of the Farrelly brothers who are labeled as followers of American bigotry like DUMB AND DUMBER, etc, can bring such magical sensitivity that resonates.
GREEN BOOK is based on a real-life event. An Italian American bouncer at the premier New York nightclub – the Copacabana in his desire to earn few extra bucks when the nightclub was under renovations, gets hired by an African American jazz pianist Don Shirley to act as his chauffeur for a concert tour. Viggo Mortensen as the chauffeur, has transformed to perfection. The darkened hair, gaining extra 40 pounds with that accent is flawless. On the other hand Mahershala Ali as Don Shirley – the sensitive artist is a control personality fighting a silent battle inside.
Two different men on a same journey and yes you expect them to develop a rapport, a bond, a chemistry but here it gets divine, inspirational and piously human. Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali deliver perfect notes in their portrayal; there is a dignified warmth and dignity. The audience will see the exceptional Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali delivering a master class on screen. Worthy of all the nominations and beyond any iota of doubt, it is those memorable performance that will haunt for years.
When Don Shirley says, “’You never win with violence. You only win when you maintain your dignity” and leaves a probing comment when he says, “ That people invite him to experience his culture then go back to their real culture” speaks about the length and depth the movie goes in presenting the hard fact of human nature which is complicated and so is the truth sometimes when Don asks Tony, “So if I’m not black enough and if I’m not white enough, then tell me, Tony, what am I?”.
The humour which sometimes goes black is laced with continues moments of irony and injustice. The fried chicken episode, Don Shirley after getting applause from the white audience, is made to stay in pitiful motels. All this gems makes this journey of ‘The Odd Couple’ – Don and Tony, a magically rare phenomenon in mainstream cinema.
The year’s Oscar favorite – GREEN BOOK is highly recommended for the connoisseurs of sense and sensibility on screen. This soothingly resonating marvel on race, class and humanity helmed by Peter Farrelly sees Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali delivering a master class in acting. Unmissable.