Tony (Viggo Mortensen) is a bouncer at a nightclub in New York and is looking for a new job whilst the club is closed for renovations. He eventually is called up for an interview for a job where he’ll be required to be drive and bodyguard Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a popular African-American pianist for a two months’ tour in the Deep South region of the USA. Albeit an ungracious meet-up with Shirley, Tony is given the job at a good pay. The rest of the movie deals with their blossoming friendship and their reactions to the social differences in their country.
Positive Points: –
- The performances of Mortensen and Ali.
- The quirky humour meshed swimmingly with its serious undertones makes it less disturbing or disheartening as compared to most similar flicks.
- Despite its lighter tone Green Book is still strongly relevant in context with race issues in the USA for its serious sides are not watered down to support its otherwise humorous premise.
Negative Points: –
- We have seen movies like this and we’ll keep seeing them again and again. Nothing special to note about anything in it.
- Green Book is at best a one-time watch and its effect wears out pretty soon after it ends.
The General Aspects: –
To be very frank and honest, there’s nothing really novel about Green Book and again, to be honest, it doesn’t have to be. The film has its own charm and brilliance which doesn’t need a fresh cinematic outlook. It’s generally a smooth ride with some minor albeit essential bumps which of course revolve around the racist nature of the Americans, especially in the Deep South. Director Peter Farrelly keeps the movie simple in its heart and that works positively for it as neither is it too intense to be painful nor is it too silly to be ignored. Although most of the dialogues include situational humour, screenwriters Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie and Farrelly have added enough insightful discussions between various characters to convey the film’s overall message in the most lucid yet effective manner. However, apart from its performances, I don’t see anything worth remembering about Green Book. It’s only worthy of a single time viewing and is largely forgettable probably because the story is more about the friendship of Tony and Don rather than a statement against racism (which is secondary here) and we have seen lot better stories about friendship (and even about racism) on the screen before. Nonetheless, it still has a universal appeal and that works wonders for it.
The collective performances in Green Book particularly by its leads are its strongest virtue and probably the most memorable element as well. The best thing about Viggo Mortensen is his versatility. All of his career he has delivered performances with such radical range of personalities that anything normal from his side would be a disappointment. Playing a character like Tony isn’t a cakewalk for everyone because donning both the accent and the demeanour of an Italian-American isn’t as easy as Mortensen makes it seem. His comic sense is spot on and so is his chemistry with Ali. Mahershala Ali also gives a terrific performance despite his character being less expressive. For most of the sequences, he is easily overshadowed by his co-star but whenever the film turns towards emotions, he gets on par with the latter and sometimes even outperforms him.
Final Verdict: –
Green Book is a simple film which hardly takes any risks in terms of filmmaking yet, by all means, it’s a wonderful movie. The film balances so many things in the most appropriate manner which deems it likeable. Watch it out for its humour, comment on racism, two terrific performances and an endearing chemistry shared by those very two brilliant performers.