Directed by Peter Farrelly, “Green Book” is a true story about an Italian bouncer who becomes a driver and personal assistant to an African American pianist in the early 1960s. After Tony Lip’s bouncing job gets put on hold for a few months, he is referred to Dr. Don Shirley, an extremely talented musician who is going on a two month tour in the Southern States until Christmas. He hires him to get him from gig to gig, but also to protect him from those who do not accept his skin color. After hearing what he’ll be paid, Tony takes the job, but during their time together, a friendship blooms and turns into something neither of them expected.
Race is a recurring theme throughout “Green Book” as Dr. Shirley consistently experiences discrimination, even at the venue’s that are paying him for his talents. At first, Tony seems indifferent when it comes to African Americans and has plenty of ignorant assumptions. However, after getting to know him, we see Tony begin to change and become a caring and compassionate friend to Dr. Shirley. While that transition has plenty of emotional bumps on the road, their connection seems innate.
While race is a huge factor of the movie, the film is actually more about friendship and the strong impact it can have on the human heart. Sometimes friendships can unexpectedly develop and go on to last a lifetime. “Green Book” beautifully displays this message in the most heartwarming of ways. The film can be similarly compared to John Hughes’s “Planes Trains and Automobiles”, a comedy about two strangers who meet attempting to get home for Thanksgiving and end up becoming best of friends in the process. Not enough bromance movies are made these days, but “Green Book” can fill that gaps on its own.
The most noticeable reason for the film’s success is the acting. The two main roles were perfectly casted and its difficult to see anyone else playing them and doing as great of a job. Viggo Mortensen plays Tony and Mahershala Ali plays Shirley. The chemistry between these two is perfectly acted out, and their talents seem to bounce off each other in a way that makes for a touching bromance. Both have an excellent track record, with Viggo starring in the critically acclaimed “Lord of the Ring” trilogy and “Captain Fantastic, and Mahershala Ali winning a well-deserved Oscar for 2016’s “Moonlight”.
“Green Book” is an incredibly heartfelt and touching story that keeps a smile on each audience members’ face for the majority of the runtime. With the holiday season officially here, this film could not have arrived at a better time. If you’re in the mood for a nice feel-good story, “Green Book” is without a doubt the one to see.
Rated PG-13 for thematic content, language including racial epithets, smoking, some violence and suggestive material