When Dignity Prevails

Green Book

Director: Peter Farrelly

Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, P. J. Byrne, Sebastian Maniscalco, Dimiter D. Marinov, Paul Sloan, Anthony Mangano

Oscar nominee Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic, Eastern Promises) and Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) give top notch performances as Tony “The Lip” a working class Italian American bouncer from the Bronx and a classical music pianist, the erudite Dr Don Shirley in the superb road film Green Book directed by Peter Farrelly.

When Tony the Lip, a loud mouth, aggressive and compulsive eater bouncer finds himself out of work at a New York nightclub he takes the job as a hired driver for the sophisticated and refined Dr Don Shirley who has an itinerary of classical concerts to perform in the deep South from Raleigh in North Carolina to Birmingham in Alabama in 1962 at the height of racial segregation and tensions in the American Southern States.

Mortensen gives one of his best on screen performances in a reversal of the classic Bruce Beresford film Driving Miss Daisy, as the crass chauffeur for the cool and occasionally collected Dr Shirley beautifully played by Mahershala Ali who expertly masks deeper resentments at having to play for these wealthy white audiences in Country Clubs in the deep South yet knowing that he will not be treated as an equal.

Often the managers offer him separate amenities such as change rooms or even a linen closet to utilize highlighting the hideous social repercussions of racial segregation not to mention the obvious hypocrisies inherently contained in such an absurd policy. While Tony is quick to protest this treatment, Dr Don Shirley insists that dignity must prevail and they must not lose their cool.

The title of the film, Green Book refers to an American road user’s guide for Negroes as they travel through the Deep South even offering alternative places of accommodations and what rules to comply with.

Director Peter Farrelly never overemphasizes the theme of racial segregation but rather subtly hints at it through many humorous scenes as the two men from vastly different backgrounds form an unlikely bond especially when Tony has to somehow curb Dr Shirley self-destructive streak and pluck him from some rather awkward situations.

The onscreen chemistry between Mortensen and Ali is beautiful and makes Green Book shine as a fascinating portrait of male friendship struck up through a thoroughly historical and unusual set of social circumstances in 1962.

Green Book has fantastic music, a wonderful supporting cast including a lovely performance by Linda Cardellini as Tony’s patient wife Dolores who Dr Shirley assists Tony in writing beautiful love letters to while the duo are on the road in hostile territories.

Green Book is highly recommended viewing and both Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali deserve Oscars for their brilliant performances.

Green Book gets a film rating of 9 out of 10 and is all the more relevant since it is based on a true story.

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