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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

A compelling tale of then and now: Green Book movie review

The film, set in the 1960s, tracks the all-pervasive racism of the time and the casual cruelty it entailed, and yet manages to not be grim.

movie-reviews Updated: Nov 21, 2018 20:35 IST
Madhusree Ghosh
Madhusree Ghosh
Hindustan Times
Based on a true story, Green Book follows the Jamaican classical pianist Don Shirly and his driver, an Italian former New York bouncer named Tony ‘Lip’ Vallelonga, on a journey into the American Deep South.
Based on a true story, Green Book follows the Jamaican classical pianist Don Shirly and his driver, an Italian former New York bouncer named Tony ‘Lip’ Vallelonga, on a journey into the American Deep South.
         
GREEN BOOK
  • Direction: Peter Farrelly
  • Actors: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini
  • Rating: 3.5 / 5

Based on a true story, Green Book follows the Jamaican classical pianist Don Shirly and his driver, an Italian former New York bouncer named Tony ‘Lip’ Vallelonga, on a journey into the American Deep South in the 1960s.

The casting alone is a coup. Viggo Mortensen brings energy and nuance to the role of the brash, raw Tony. Mahershala Ali’s Shirly is restrained and regal in his vulnerability — a person of colour descending into the heart of racist America ferried there by a Caucasian driver. The chemistry of contrasts is palpable from their first scene.

The title refers to The Negro Motorist Green Book, written by Victor Hugo Green in 1936, as a guide for African-American road-trippers. Which restaurants you were allowed into, which hotels you could use, which towns had a curfew for people of colour after sundown.

The casting alone is a coup. Viggo Mortensen brings energy and nuance to the role of the brash, raw Tony. Mahershala Ali’s Shirly is restrained and regal in his vulnerability.
The casting alone is a coup. Viggo Mortensen brings energy and nuance to the role of the brash, raw Tony. Mahershala Ali’s Shirly is restrained and regal in his vulnerability.

Aside from the all-pervasiveness of the prejudice, the film tracks the casual cruelty it entailed, and yet manages to not be grim. Part of this is a result of some artful writing; brash humour mix with poignancy to make you laugh out loud and immediately want to reverse the reaction.

Special mention must be made of Linda Cardellini, playing Tony’s wife Dolores. The letters exchanged between the couple give the film a romantic rose tint that is enjoyable without being saccharine sweet.

The only downside of the film is the predictable happy ending. Overall, though, a great watch that feels timely and, sadly, relevant.

First Published: Nov 21, 2018 20:35 IST

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