As a major candidate for Best Picture at the Oscars, Green Book provides a thoughtful and compelling storyline, backed by a healthy amount of social commentary. The movie explores deep-seated issues that took place in the United States, while still managing to keep a fairly light and often comedic tone. It explores the extreme racism of the Deep South in the 1960s, while focusing on the relationship between an Italian American driver hired by a famous African American pianist to get him through his tour of performances across many Southern states.
First of all, one of the most entertaining aspects of the movie is the relationship between Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), an upper class, classically trained African American jazz pianist, and Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), a rough-and-tumble Italian American bouncer with mob ties. When the Copa Cabana closes for maintenance, Tony is forced to find other work. Dr. Shirley inquires about Tony after hearing about him, because he needs a tough guy to drive him through the Deep South, as racial tensions are incredibly high. Tony accepts the job, and as their journey begins, both men are quite doubtful of one another as they have vastly different lifestyles and are of different races. However, despite their differences, they grow a close bond by helping each other through various situations, wether it be Tony standing to rednecks hassling Shirley in a bar, or Shirley helping Tony write romantic letters to his wife. Both actors play out their roles with nuance and dedication, which is made very apparent.
The film also does a fantastic job displaying the racial tensions during the time, and how the characters deal with them, sometimes resulting in hilarity, and sometimes heartache. Although the director Peter Ferrelly is known for comedies such as There’s Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber, he approaches this film with a lot more class than his previous endeavors, while maintaining a healthy level of humor and exuberance. Furthermore, there’s a tremendous amount of character growth, ending on a satisfying note as it’s clear that the characters come out of their ordeal more loving and less judgmental.
Overall, this is a film full of heart and emotion, brought together by brilliant acting and storytelling. The thoughtful and light-hearted dialogue never leaves the audience with a dull moment in between each snafu, wether it be run-ins with racist cops or inhospitable Southerners. Green Book provides viewers with a detailed and cinematic look into a true story about overcoming stereotypes, changing people’s hearts, and being courageous when faced with persistent opposition.