GREEN BOOK (2018) highlights incredible performances from Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali
Directed by Peter Farrelly, Green Book follows Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) who takes a job as the driver of African-American pianist Dr Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) on a tour of the American South during the 1960’s.
Green Book, based on true events, is an astounding film boasting a gripping story, incredible lead performances, and a smooth journey from beginning to end. The story itself delves into some touchy subject matter with Don Shirley being an African-American making his way through a 1960’s United States but it handles every scene delicately. Right from the setup and initial meeting of our two lead characters I was hooked. The story introduces an interesting scenario right off the bat between two characters who you’d think would never cross paths in their lifetime. From here it only escalates. It doesn’t escalate in pace at all but rather the relationship between Tony and Don Shirley flourishes over time and that ultimately drives the plot forward.
This is their story, not Don Shirley’s, not Tony Lip’s, but their story together and how this journey shaped both of them in ways neither could have ever imagined. It’s heartwarming, heartbreaking, and engages you emotionally to where you don’t want to miss any of it for a toilet break. The back and forth between Don and Tony is captivating on its own and since the majority of the film is focusing solely on them, that detail is key. The emotion of the story is there but they don’t forget to have some fun. Subtle humorous moments are cleverly thrown in that work well with the overall tone. Seeing the director of Dumb and Dumber (1994) direct this may be a bit of a mystery initially but Farrelly’s touch is definitely what gives this film its charm as odd as that may seem.
But the core reason why this film works is the strength of the chemistry between Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali that is unbreakable. The two of them can star in any movie together and I will be there because they are electric together. These two have been perfectly paired together in these roles to where they compliment each-other with every line spoken. Viggo may not have ever won an academy award for best lead actor but he proves he still has it with back to back nominations for the award following 2016’s Captain Fantastic. Mahershala himself has been nominated for best supporting actor and this is as good of a shoe-in if I’ve ever seen one. He has some scenes in here so powerful that on their own they’d garner at least a nomination. He’s a masterclass of his field and he proves that more-so here.
Green Book is one of the best films of 2018 and had I seen this prior to putting in my top 10 of the year it would have made it in no doubt. With powerful performances and a gripping story you don’t want to miss one of the best films of the year. I don’t see it going home with the Academy Award for best picture but I would be delighted if it somehow pulled it out of the bag.