Well, the countdown to the Oscars continues and so does the gradual checking off the list of films nominated for best picture! Friday night, it was Green Book.
Inspired by a true story, the film follows Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), an uncouth working-class Italian-American who becomes the driver and assistant of an African-American classical pianist (Mahershala Ali) on a tour of the Deep South. Despite their significantly different upbringings and personalities, the two develop an unlikely friendship as each helps the other find some home truths about themselves.
Like Hidden Figures, Green Book doesn’t make a point about ramming clichéd examples of racism and overdone, feel-good shows of overcoming adversity down the throat and that’s what I loved the most about this film. Nothing about this movie is clichéd everything is subtle, but extremely powerful. The script is wonderfully witty and throughout the entire show, there are these delightful, shifting power plays between the two leads, which really rounds out the experience and gives the movie its drama and humour.
Arm in arm with the script to make up the perfect couple is the cast chemistry between the two leads. Viggo Mortensen as Tony Vallelonga is uncouth and very rough around the edges, but with a real heart of gold and though his journey is subtle, it’s one of the most endearing in cinema at the moment because while his attitude doesn’t seem to change significantly, you can sense that there’s been a real shift and his silence speaks louder than any overblown monologue ever could.
Mahershala Ali as the highly educated, upstanding musician is absolutely wonderful, a perfect contrast to Viggo’s character and a rich and complex depiction of the deeper prejudices the film explores; this is not just about black and white racism. Maintaining an impressive dignity for the main portion of the film, probably the most moving scenes are when the truths about the tortures that this man suffers come out and we get glimpses of true loneliness. It’s heartbreaking, but so beautiful and it makes the scenes of friendship between the two leads so warm and touching.
Green Book is a truly beautiful film that seems simple on the surface, but is actually a very rich and complex web of themes and cultural attitudes that are still relevant and present to this day. Amidst its fellow nominees, it’s definitely a worthy contender for a few gold statuettes!