Green Book – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz

January 20, 2019 by Roz Tarszisz
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There’s invariably a good soundtrack to an American road trip movie and this one – inspired by a true story – is no exception.

It’s 1962 when nightclub bouncer Frank Anthony Vallelonga, aka Tony Lip, (Viggo Mortensen), reluctantly takes on a job as chauffeur and minder for African-American musician Dr Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali).  Tony is an opportunist who considers such a man beneath him. Shirley is a highly educated and talented musician, and it’s his record company footing the bill for him and his eponymous trio to make the two months road tour.

Like any good road movie, it’s the mismatch between two disparate characters that Director Peter Farrelly focuses on as they head across the Mid-West and then down South. The spectacle of a white man driving a black man causes a stir the further south they travel and there are some ugly incidents.

Green Book refers to the motorist handbook published from 1936-1966 which listed establishments where a black man would be made welcome and Tony makes use of it as they travel.

While Shirley and his two band-mates are warmly welcomed wherever they are going to play, it should still come as no surprise that he is not allowed to use the same bathroom as his pale skinned hosts.

The effect this has on Shirley is shown in both obvious and subtle ways but it is Tony who starts to take real notice.

As Tony labours over writing to his wife Dolores (Linda Cardellini) the educated Shirley helps him write the letters and this brings home the huge difference between them. Tony is surprised to learn his boss has never eaten friend chicken, something he assumed ‘you people’ always ate.

Performances are terrific. Mortensen is mesmerizing, if unrecognisable, as the food loving, chain smoking, loud mouth who has all his prejudices challenged. Shirley has great presence and, as he warms up to Tony, we also start to warm to him. Cardellini is as compelling here as she was in The Founder.

Tony’s son Nick, a producer and writer on the movie, has noted that Cardellini looks just like his mother did and Mortensen has completely channelled his father.  There is humour and warmth in this uplifting odd couple tale and the great soundtrack made me feel like dancing.

4/5 Rated M 130mins Released January 24

Starring Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini

Directed by Peter Farrelly

Screenplay by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly




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