There are films that you like because of their artistic sensibilities. And then, there are films that you like because of their warmth and good-natured vibe. ‘Green Book’, a film that belongs to the latter kind, will make your day wonderful ( I really mean that). You will come out of the theater with a smile on your face and feeling warm and fuzzy. In short, ‘Green Book’ belongs to the best of feel-good cinema. It evokes laughter and is powerfully moving at the same time.
The story of Green Book is based on true events in 1962 America. Don Shirley, a celebrated black musician of his time, carries himself like a prince, garbed in sharp suits speaking perfect, literary English. He’s not built for the racism, so he hires Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), his exact opposite, as his driver to take him on a music tour extending from north to deep south. Tony is an Italian-American raised in the streets and bars of New York. He is loud-mouthed and also a racist. Their journey starts on a bumpy note, but by the end of it, not only both of them become friends but also undergo a cathartic transformation.
Farrelly brothers have made several great comedies — Dumb and Dumber, There is Something about Mary. They have also made several shitty films. This is the first time Peter Farrelly has made a film without his brother, Bobby Farrelly, and I have no hesitation in saying that ‘Green Book’ is the best film to have come out Farrelly household.
The chemistry between Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali is sparkling, to say the least. Both the actors are at the top of their game and bounce off each other’s performance. Viggo has played gangsters and tough guys before, but this has to be among his best. Only he could have brought required the sensitivity to Tony. Mahershala, on the other hand, has a less showier role but he shines in a performance that requires him to be graceful and resilient.
Sure, there is nuance missing in the film, and it plays all the notes safe. But then it is not pretending to be a film that is going to spark conversations about race. It is a straight-forward film with just one purpose: fill your heart with joy. And that purpose it fulfils better than any other film I have seen this year.