Watching Viggo Mortensen in GREEN BOOK as an overweight goombah from the Bronx is such a departure from his other starring roles that it was like a breath of fresh air. He's simply marvelous as Tony Lip, the real-life Italian-American bouncer from the Copacabana nightclub in NYC who is hired to drive and protect Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) on his concert tour through the Deep South in 1962.
Shirley, an African-American jazz and classical pianist, requested this particular path through the South. He was hoping to educate members of the white upper class about the many talents possessed by Americans of color. And though he and his trio are accepted into
their homes and concert halls, he's still not allowed in many of the hotels and restaurants.
GREEN BOOK is a stark reminder of a period in our country not long ago when people of color were barred from the simplest pleasures in this world. Mortensen portrays Tony with all of the bravado of a hard-nosed Italian, who had to learn the truths of prejudice, of which he was guilty. It's a dynamic performance which he makes look effortless.
Mortensen and Ali have beautiful chemistry. Don, at first pompous and reserved, loosens up around Tony, whom he attempts to better. Tony's first reaction is always violence --- a pop to the jaw or
worse --- but Don reforms Tony, reasoning that violence is not always the best solution. As GREEN BOOK progresses, so does the friendship between these two highly unlikely companions.
GREEN BOOK refers to "The Negro Motorist Green Book", an actual green guide book for African-American travelers to help them navigate the South before the Civil Rights movement. It was an aid to finding motels and restaurants where they would be accepted. GREEN BOOK is a truly delightful dramedy that should be on everyone's list of films to see before the Oscars.
Opinion: Strong See It Now!
Two extraordinary performances by Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, along with an exceptional script, make GREEN BOOK easily one of the best films of the year. Blue collar worker Tony Lip (Mortensen), a New York City Italian, and refined classical pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Ali), an African-American, travel together on an extended road trip through the Deep South of the U.S.
Based on a true story, the duo learn much about the racial prejudices of their country in 1962, but more importantly they forge an unlikely friendship that will last the rest of their lives.
GREEN BOOK is laced with great humor, and the supporting cast --- especially Linda Cardellini as Tony's wife Dolores --- is flawless. An emotionally-charged finale that is perfectly staged by director Peter Farrelly closes out this wonderful story.
Opinion: Strong See It Now!