Green Book is a comedy-drama film directed by Peter Farrelly and was written by Farrelly, Brian Currie and Vallelonga's son, Nick Vallelonga. The film stars Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, and Linda Cardellini.
The Story/The Direction:
The film takes place in the 1960s in mostly the Deep South of the United States. It concentrates on the true musical tour of Don Shirley/Doc (Ali) who hired Tony Vallelonga (Mortensen) as his driver and bodyguard. The film gains its name from The Negro Motorist Green Book, a guidebook for African-American travelers written by Victor Hugo Green, to help them find motels and restaurants that would accept them. These two travel across the south interacting with a multitude of people both receptive and opposed to them. They get to know each other and eventually become friends and Farrelly does a decent job showing this buddy/road trip film. However, the best part is the characters played by the two main actors.
Both actors equally play their characters brilliantly as they are both able to step in their roles and run with it. Mortensen can legitimately play any character and Ali is no different. These two men have excellent chemistry on screen and their banter is the highlight of the film. Each time they're in the car together, it is enjoyable to watch. Vallelonga comes from this working background but his knowledge of African Americans is based on stereotypes however this opinion changes over the course of the film. Similarly, Doc grows to appreciate Tony's candidness and sees he does not mean any harm in what he says to him. The film shows them growing together over the course of the film and its a good time to see it happen. Cardellini also does a decent job as Tony's wife but she is not the focus of the film.
The biggest flaw comes from the writing as it is fairly a one-sided film. The audience gets to know more about Tony than Doc whose backstory is very rushed. This makes sense due to the main writer on the film is Tony's eventual son. However, this provides some miscues with how bad things were for Doc traveling through the South. This is probably due to Tony really not knowing how bad it was. He is facing forward while driving, Doc is in the back, and he may not have realized how scared Doc could have been. The apparently worst thing that Tony views are when Doc is not able to try on a suit before buying it. The film does not touch into how Doc was feeling very much. In addition, the film's pacing seemed a little off as it would switch back from serious to comical quite quickly. One scene would be a very intense scene and the next would have Doc and Tony back in the car, joking. It can take one out of the film a little.
This film was not made to end prejudice or stop racism but rather tell a story about two men. Albeit the one-sidedness, the film does this fairly well and the acting is worth the price of admission, alone.
Rating: 4.0/5.0 bowties
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