Green Book Movie Review

February 05, 2019 By Southpoint Tuggeranong

It’s that time of year again – the Oscars season – and road-trip buddy drama Green Book has swept in as a possible contender for Best Picture, giving Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born a run for their money. (It’s already cleaned up as the Golden Globe Awards, winning Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy.)

Interestingly also keeping with a musical theme, Green Book is based on the real life unlikely friendship of Dr Don Shirley and Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga. In 1962, Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a world-class African-American classical pianist, decides to embark on a concert tour of the Deep South. Dangerous territory for an unaccompanied black man, he hires bouncer Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) to drive him.

They must rely on ‘The Negro Motorist Green Book’ to guide them to the hotels and restaurants safe for African-Americans. Shirley and Tony Lip could not be more different from one another. Shirley is a refined, cultured and intellectual man who lives alone above Carnegie Hall, while Tony Lip is a rough-and-tumble Italian-American bouncer who does whatever he needs to in order to support his wife and two kids. And initially, Tony Lip has very specific views on African-Americans, which he has to overcome, while Shirley has insisted on this tour as a kind of silent protest against the treatment African-Americans face in the Deep South.

Shirley remains stoic in the face of adversity. For example, when invited into someone’s fancy mansion as their guest of honour to give a performance, but not permitted to use the inside bathroom. Tony Lip flares up on Shirley’s behalf, but Shirley calmly returns to his hotel to use the facilities, then continues on with the concert. While not delving too deeply into the broader issue of racism, Green Book instead focuses on the impact these two men had on each other’s lives. And Ali and Mortensen have such great on-screen presence that it’s their complicated mismatched relationship that keeps you watching. Ali, in particular, is enigmatic – and well-deserving of the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture, as well as the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role.

Written by Vallelonga’s son Nick (in collaboration with writer Brian Currie and director Peter Farrelly), Green Book bonds two men from very different backgrounds in a feel-good, though maybe slightly cheesy way.

For session times and to watch the trailer click here.

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