Review of 'Green Book'

green_book.jpg It is 1962 and Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) is a New York City wise-guy from the Italian community. Though a bit prejudiced, as others were at the time, he has an innate sense of honor working at the Copacabana night club. When the club is closed for renovations he eventually finds a job driving for Dr. Donald Shirley (Mahershala Ali) a wealthy educated pianist…who is also black. Shirley is determined to do a tour with his trio of the southern US states, at this time still largely segregated with deep-suited prejudice. Given the “Green Book” detailing places where black people can safely stay in the south the two head out learning not only about each other but about themselves.

It should come as no surprise the beginning of “Green Book” is a setup for racial tension our main characters encounter in their trip but what may come as a surprise is that this is not really the focus of the film. Instead we are drawn into these two characters who have their own issues which are far more interesting. There is a lot of humor here such as Tony insisting on being the driver and not putting the luggage in the back of the car or Shirley insisting on Tony picking up a cup from a fried chicken joint he throws out the car window. This story is of the two vastly different people coming to understand each other with the prejudice of the deep south pushing them into becoming better people.

Mortensen and Ali put on tremendous performances here with great subtlety – Very relaxed and comfortable in their characters. The film looks great and is utterly convincing, chillingly slow when we are shown the southern US of the 60s where wealthy white people are more than happy to watch a black pianist play an amazing classical concert for them but then unblinkingly insist he uses the latrine out back of the mansion.


Review Date: 2019-05-05

Directed by: Peter Farrelly

Studio: Participant Media

Year: 2018

Length: 130 minutes

Genre: Melodrama