Director Peter Farrelly uses the tried-and-true road trip formula to touching effect.
Based on actual events and set in 1962, Viggo Mortensen stars as Frank ‘Tony Lip’ Vallelonga, a New York bouncer. After his nightclub is closed for renovations, he lands a job as driver and security for the famed 50/60’s concert pianist Don Shirley. Together the two tour America’s deep south where Shirley faces repeated racist abuse. The title refers to the 20th century guidebook for black travellers to find motels and restaurants that would accept them.
The chalk and cheese relationship between Don and Tony is Green Book’s cornerstone. While most of the heavy lifting is left to Mortensen, who put on some 20 kilos to play Tony, Mahershala Ali is also perfectly cast as this incarnation of Shirley, a prodigy whose intellect and musical abilities alienate him from virtually everybody. It’s a role that just exudes dignity.
Winner of three Golden Globes and nominated for five Oscars, certainly it does feel at times like an old-school throwback to the feel-good comedy-dramas the Oscars used to reward. And there’s nothing wrong with that. (Research Chris Coetsee) eg Butch & Sundance 1969, The Apartment (1960). Critics have sniffed, blow them. Come. Its great.