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Film Review: Green Book

PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 February 2019

Green Book starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen  Picture: UNIVERSAL PICTURES

Green Book starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen Picture: UNIVERSAL PICTURES

An unlikely friendship is the subject of the latest film review from Mark Goodin.

Green Book starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen  Picture: UNIVERSAL PICTURESGreen Book starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen Picture: UNIVERSAL PICTURES

An odd-couple road movie is hardly the most original story through which to explore the relationship between two wildly different individuals.

Yet Peter Farrelly executes his telling of the based-on-true-events tale of Tony ‘lip’ Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), who is hired by African American pianist Dr Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) to drive him on a concert tour of the deep south, with such panache that it is easy to forgive the film its familiar, sentimental beats.

Perhaps best known for making raucous, gross-out comedies with his brother Bobby, here Farrelly opts for a gentler tone and proves to be a surprisingly good fit with the humorous, character-driven drama, constructing with co-writers Nick Vallelonga and Brian Hayes Curie a serious and important portrait of the compromises African Americans are so often forced to make.

Though its representation of the notoriously violent Jim Crow South could be seen to be a little tame in some of the racist encounters the pair face during their journey, the emotional resonance of the film and its overall message are never lost.

This is largely thanks to two towering central performances. Mortensen fills the loud, larger-than-life Tony with warmth and humanity without ever falling into caricature and Ali imbues his refined musician with a pained elegance. It is in their sparky relationship that the film crackles to life and powers this charming, warm-hearted and touching film.

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