Green Book is the crowd-pleaser of 2018. A strong, yet safe, film dealing with race relations, bigotry, and acceptance towards other human beings.
Nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, Green Book is a heartfelt picture that may move some to tears. Actor’s Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen are outstanding in their title roles, while their chemistry rides smoothly together. As we drift farther South with our characters the film’s subject matter becomes hefty and keeps you focused. It’s a movie that demonstrates what real social change can do and a message that’s still relevant for our country today. Yesterday, Mortensen and Ali received Oscar nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Mortensen) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Ali). Both actors are exceptional here and help uplift the film overall. Our film follows the true story of Tony Lip (Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, who is hired to drive Dr. Don Shirley (Ali), a world-class African-American pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South in the 1960s.
During their tour through the Deep South, Tony must rely on "The Green Book" to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans. Along the way, Tony and Dr. Shirley are confronted with racism and danger. This becomes an eye-opener for Tony, while this is a normal everyday occurrence for Dr. Shirley. Through their journey together, they find each other’s humanity and are uplifted by humor, establishing a lifelong bond. Writer-director Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary) wonderfully crafts this picture, yet he decided to keep the overall subject matter relatively safe. Most people will rejoice at this, but I wished that Green Book could have dug deeper into its tough source of material.
But that’s not stopping people from seeing it. Green Book had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, where it won the People's Choice Award. It won the National Board of Review (NBR) award of best film of 2018 and was also chosen as one of the Top 10 by the American Film Institute (AFI). The film also received numerous award nominations, including winning the Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture (PGA) and Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. While audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a rare average grade of "A+" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it an 85% positive score and an 80% "definite recommend".
There's a scene in the film, that really struck me, where Dr. Shirley exclaims to Tony in the pouring rain: “So if I'm not *black* enough and if I'm not *white* enough, then tell me, Tony, what am I?” This emotional scene stood out from the rest and showed Dr. Shirley’s conflicting struggle with being himself. Raw and compelling, Ali delivers some powerhouse moments throughout this film. Overall, Green Book is a good movie and it is worth your time. As we ride with Tony and Dr. Shirley, the audience discovers their own vitality of being your most authentic. Green Book dwells with real social change and this is expressed through everyday kindness, at a time when our country and the world in general need it more than ever.
Green Book is rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned). For thematic content, language including racial epithets, smoking, some violence and suggestive material.