WORTH A LOOK?: ***1/2
WHEN?: Released UK-wide 01/02/19
The 76th Golden Globes are awarded at the Beverley Hilton, Beverley Hills in California on Sunday (6 January 2019) and this film is shortlisted for 5 (Best Film (Musical or Comedy), Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenplay).
- Read on for reasons including why this film is likely to resonate with Oscar voters
Green Book is the real-life story of the unlikely friendship between African-American classical and jazz pianist Don Shirley, played by Mahershala Ali (who won 2017’s Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Moonlight) and the bodyguard for his 1960s Deep South tour Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen)
The titular Green Book was a guide book of the time for African-American travellers to help them find motels and restaurants that would not turn them away because of the colour of their skin.
The Oscars have better represented the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in recent years and the subject matter of this film is likely to resonate with newer Academy voters this year.
We’ve not really paid a great deal of attention to Mortensen’s work before but he is engaging here, not least because he has put on some weight for this role which shows a lack of vanity. His ill-educated Tony is going on a journey in more senses than 1 and Ali is suitably uptight as the pianist who comes to rely on his bodyguard and is also learning life lessons here.
If that all sounds too serious, this actually has some very funny moments as you might expect from director Peter Farrelly, who with brother Bobby was behind films including There’s Something About Mary.
But there’s also some points landed well here including how the attitude of authorities including the police fuelled the racism of the time but also how people with different views were sprinkled through society not least at its summit.
We won’t spoil the ending but the Christmas setting makes it best seen in the festive season and so when we caught it on Boxing Day we were particularly ripe for its sentiment.
It’s an interesting film that’s both funny and moving that deserves its place on best-of shortlists but we don’t think it is quite strong enough to sweep the board.