FILM REVIEW: Green Book

Joyful film: Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali have both earned Oscar nominations for their performances in Green Book, rated M, in cinemas now.
Joyful film: Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali have both earned Oscar nominations for their performances in Green Book, rated M, in cinemas now.

There’s something about road movies that’s just so damn enjoyable.

Whether it’s the singalongs of Almost Famous, the awkward charm of Little Miss Sunshine or the pure terror of Duel, the road movie has a way of drawing you in, of taking you on the same journey as its characters.

This is certainly true of buzzy real-life dramedy Green Book.

The film tells the true story of Tony ‘Lip’ Vallelonga and Dr Don Shirley.

Tony (Viggo Mortensen, Lord of the Rings) is a man-for-hire, a guy who could sell ice to an Eskimo, even if his grammar isn’t quite Queen’s English.

He picks up a job driving genius pianist Dr Shirley (Mahershala Ali, Moonlight) on a tour of the American south.

Now, this is the 1960s and Dr Shirley is a black man.

The south is far from welcoming, and in many cities and towns Dr Shirley – the celebrated guest of honour – is ‘not welcome’ at the reputable hotels and must stay in out-of-way shacks.

The green book of the title is a guide listing where African-American travellers are allowed to stay while visiting the south.

The film is truly a joy, and, like so many Oscar-winning and nominated movies of the past few years, shines a light on the racism of the past that is sadly all too prevalent now as well.

Green Book picked up the best comedy gong at the Golden Globes earlier this year and it really doesn’t come as a surprise – it’s one of the best movies in awards contention this year.

The relationship that develops between Tony and Dr Shirley is remarkable.

These two men could not live more different lives – one bounces from job to job, has a large, Italian family and has little time for refinement, while the other is an internationally-successful pianist who lives alone and feels isolated from society.

Over the course of their tour – in the lead-up to Christmas – the pair become reliant on one another and learn to grow and see the world in new ways.

If nothing else, Green Book is a great buddy comedy, full of laughs and heart.

But it is also deeper than that, and speaks to the importance of building bridges and learning to love people who are different to you.

Rating: 8/10