Monday, February 11, 2019

[Film Review] Green Book

Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali star in Green Book, a heartwarming buddy dramedy about two very different souls who embark on a road trip across America in the 1960s. 

Meet Tony Vallelonga (Mortensen), a hard-nosed Italian-American struggling to make money outside of local mob activities and hot dog eating contests. Early on, Tony unceremoniously lands a gig as a driver (and bodyguard) for Don Shirley (Ali), a wealthy African-American pianist — to call him a virtuoso would be an understatement. 

As the mismatched pair set out for Don’s music tour, they clash in more ways than one, whether it’s their backgrounds and cultures or their personalities. But the further they go, the more respect they gain for each other. The film does a swell job of giving these characters dimension and forming their relationship, which evolves from awkward and misunderstood to loyal and heartfelt. 

The performances from Mortensen and Ali are both absolutely terrific, and they play impressively well off of each other. Viggo gets the Goodfella-esque accent down and embodies this initially not-super-likable character in an amusing manner, displaying humor and a well-meaning soul along the journey. On the other side, Mahershala is stoic and restrained, demonstrating a lot of emotion and information with his eyes and the pure conviction of his voice. Both actors are definitely deserving of their Oscar nominations.

Green Book unfolds as a great blend of laughs and more serious themes, like the racial injustices and discrimination that Doc faces throughout his tour. The film gets its messages across in an effective way, and it all leads to a very sweet conclusion that actually reminded me of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. In the end, friendship, acceptance, and understanding wins all. As Doc says, “It takes courage to change people’s hearts.”

* 8.5/10 *

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