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Usually, when a film is made and has very little depth in terms of storytelling, it would be forgotten about, but if you have a unique take on a specific story and the point of the movie is to keep it simple and explore only one facet of history. Personally, I prefer when stories are a little more fleshed out, but I also believe this simple story in Green Book is one of the best films of 2018. This is a movie that cares about its characters first and foremost and we don’t see many of those films hitting the big screen very often, so this was a pleasant surprise. Although there’s not much meat to the story (which may bore some viewers), I found Green Book to be a fantastic piece of filmmaking.
Fired from the downtown club and forced to take any job he can in order to support his family, Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) decides to take on the role of driving pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) across the South, as he and his band perform for audiences. With the inclusion of the fact that Don is an African-American man in the 1960s and Tony being an Italian-American, many racial occurrences arise for these two. Being an unlikely pairing for that particular decade, these characters needed to be like-able and completely fleshed out in order for this film to work and those two aspects were absolutely astoundingly well-done in my opinion. This also stems from a particularly great turn by director Peter Farrelly.
Although his earlier work on films like Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary are very commendable outings, his recent comedies haven’t exactly struck gold. Having his last few films being Dumb and Dumber To, Hall Pass, and The Heartbreak Kid, I was very worried about him taking on a more dramatic film. After watching this film, I felt ridiculous even thinking that, because not only has he shown maturity as a director this time around, but also completely understood how to blend his sense of humour with a more meaningful premise. If he sticks with this style of filmmaking, I can definitely see his name in the public eye more often in the coming years. The way he handles his performers here was truly something special.
As I said, it truly is the character arcs that carry this film and without amazing performances, this movie would’ve been forgotten. Mortensen and Ali both give their all in these roles and it shows. There wasn’t a single moment where I found myself scratching my head or not believing a decision they made or line of dialogue they spoke. In the vein of films like Driving Miss Daisy or even Before Sunrise, the conversations are the reason this film doesn’t feel slow. There’s hardly a single exciting scene and the movie clocks in at nearly 140 minutes. That’s when you know the dialogue has been written very well by the trio in Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, and Peter Farrelly.
In the end, I can’t see everyone loving this film, due to the slow pace it has, but it’s a breezy crowd-pleaser nonetheless. This movie has been generating major awards consideration and I think it deserves every bit of it and then some. I loved my experience watching this movie and I can’t wait to revisit it and take this journey with these characters again. Funny, sad, and heartwarming, Green Book easily earns the title of being one of the best feel-good movies in recent memory (at least to me). I loved this movie and I can’t recommend it enough.