Heartwarming but Run of the Mill
Green Book | Directed By Peter Farrelly | Drama-Comedy | PG-13 | 2H 10MIN
Written By Anton Charpentier
When I first saw the advertising for Green Book, I immediately thought that the film was Oscar bait, and it was, but I must admit that I enjoyed this film. It’s well known that the film has been achieving award success lately – it’s recent golden globe win and Oscar nominations being noteworthy. The film is unabashedly mass appeal and offers little to those seeking a new experience in the theatre, but you’re not going to hate this film. Would I die on a battlefield for this movie? No that’s an insane assumption but Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen make it an enjoyable experience that’s akin to eating a wagon wheel.
Based on a true story, the film begins with a recreation of the New York Cabana Club during the 1960s. There we are introduced to the character of Tony Lip (Mortensen), a nightclub bouncer who’s unafraid to get his hands dirty. He’s a second-generation Italian immigrant with a loving family and promising employment but displays racist behavior towards black people. When the club shuts down for renovations, Tony must seek temporary employment for the next couple months. His connections lead him to a meeting with pianist Don Shirley (Ali) who says he’s looking for a driver for his upcoming tour in the southern States. During his interview, he uses his unique ability to “BS” about his tolerance and qualifications and ultimately gets the job. From there a friendship between the two begins to form as they face the series of challenges one would expect from a road trip across the southern states during the early 60s.
The story is predictable, formulaic and pretty much every other screen writing sin out there. It’s essentially the best airplane movie ever made, but it’s still really enjoyable. As I walked out of the theatre surrounded by a crowd that was maybe 40 years my senior, all I could hear was ravings about the film. That’s when I knew this film would probably do very well at the Oscars. That’s where my praise ultimately ends, and where the film studies undergrad shows his teeth. This film offers nothing new to warrant any sort of outstanding acclaim. Certainly, there’s it’s political message which is heartwarming and undeniably a positive depiction of race relations in the United States, yet it remains leagues behind other films from this year that depict America’s long history of racism like spike Lee’s Blackkklansman. That’s solely due to the films lack of innovation in formal techniques that could have expanded the viewers political understanding. Instead the film rehashes standard filmmaking practices that are sufficient in displaying information but aren’t going to make you leave the theatre wondering how you can play a role in combatting racism.
Overall, it’s a fine film and it’s not a waste of money or time. To call it best picture though would be an insult to actually competent political filmmakers out there. Filmmakers, who with the same script, could have made something really quite special. The cast however does a remarkable job capturing the viewers hearts and definitely gives reason to enjoy the film as it stands. My advice would be to wait for Netflix or your next flight and you’ll have a wonderful time watching it there.
Watch the Official Trailer Below