Crystal Rose reviews Green Book [12A] starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, on at The Little Theatre Cinema until 21 February.
Tub-full of (warm!) popcorn in hand, we settled into our comfy seats and prepared to watch the award-winning and Golden Globe nominated biographical comedy-drama of a friendship that transcended race and class.
The sixties equivalent to a modern day bromance, Green Book tells the tale of an unlikely bond between a working-class Italian-American and an African-American classical pianist – and a ruddy good one at that.
Based on a true story, we follow the duo’s road trip down into the Deep South of America in 1962 and watch as virtuoso Don Shirley and Tony Vallelonga (or Tony Lip) embark on an eight-week concert tour. Played excellently by Viggo Mortensen, Tony – a former bouncer at nightclub Cobacabana before it closed for renovations – displays affectionate and comedic values in all the right places. His performance is heartwarming in moments as we see him learn valuable lessons from Don Shirley. Not to mention his wit, ruggedness and charming personality that’s impossible to not fall in love with.
Doctor Shirely, played by Mahershala Ali who just scooped up the BAFTA for supporting actor, displays a different sort of humour – one that is often seen flying over Lip’s head. In ‘dignity always prevails’ style – although, maybe more one-sided – Vallelonga and Shirley confront racism and danger in an era of segregation. The difference of opinions and upbringings is evident, something that is sometimes hard to watch and eye-opening to say that least.
Directed by Peter Farrelly, this comedy-drama is lighthearted in places but truly hard-hitting in others. Touching upon serious racial issues in the sixties, this is an excellent display of an unlikely friendship blooming and the bond that follows.
The Green Book – a motorist guide that was first issued in 1936 for Metropolitan New York before turning into a national issue in 1937 to cover the United States, was a shocking realisation of the conditions and lack of respect that was accepted by travellers in this time. With the aim to keep motorists from running into difficulties, the Green Book was focused on making trips enjoyable – a publication that I was unaware of beforehand.
We left The Little Theatre feeling a whole mixed-bag of emotions, acknowledging that this is one of those truly great films that you only ever stumble across every so often. A brilliant feature film highlighting discrimination that still exists in the US and an unlikely friendship that warmed our hearts.