Green Book (2018)
Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) is a bouncer from the Bronx who is hired to chauffeur renowned pianist Dr Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) across the States on his concert tour in the year 1962.
The thing that makes this a tricky assignment is the fact that Lip will be driving the musician from Manhattan into the Deep South, which is rife with segregation, racism and violence, and there are only very few establishments that cater to African-Americans.
The places that will allow Dr Shirley to enter and to perform are written down in the Green Book, and this becomes the pair’s guide as they go on the journey of a lifetime.
The film won three Oscars in 2019 – for Best Motion Picture, for Ali as Dr Shirley, and for Best Original Screenplay. Other than Ali’s Oscar, which everyone agrees was roundly deserved, the wins were met with controversy, especially around the false claims about Muslim Americans made on Twitter by writer Nick Vallelonga. Tony Lip was based on Vallelonga’s own father, whose experiences were used for the movie.
The London Evening Standard writes that, “Mahershala Ali is majestic as Dr Don Shirley, the highly educated, exquisitely refined piano virtuoso who hires Tony as chauffeur/protection for a tour into the Southern badlands of unmitigated racist brutality.”
And even if you’re uncomfortable with the simplification of racial tensions in the States, as if they can be confined to the past, the London Evening Standard maintains that despite everything, Green Book is “a delight. The advice is to suspend the racial angst for 130 minutes and luxuriate in a charming film expertly steered the right side of the line between the sweet and the saccharine by two stellar performances.”
IMDB rating: 8.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 78%