I won’t beat around the bush, Green Book is my favourite film of 2019 thus far, and it’s one that I will be watching again and again for a long time to come.
Green Book stars Viggo Mortensen as “Tony Lip” and Mahershala Ali as musician Dr Don Shirley and is the story of an unlikely friendship. Tony is hired by Don Shirley to act as his driver while he embarks on a tour in the Deep South, a place where people of colour are not exactly welcome, especially in the 1960’s which is when the film is set.
Mortensen and Ali are absolutely fantastic in this film, and watching this relationship evolve and grow throughout the course of the film is a joy to behold. Lip starts off as a man who would be labelled a racist in this day and age, but we as an audience watch a remarkable transformation as a result of this friendship that blossoms with Shirley. The two are polar opposites in almost every way, Shirley is an intelligent, well-spoken, talented man whilst Tony is a man from the streets, a hustler. He may not be talented, he might not be well-spoken or intelligent, but he has a good heart and we get to see these two men bring the best (and the worst) out of each other.
What really struck me with Green Book is how well it deals with the topic of racism and discrimination. One could argue that this is a bit of a hot topic in cinema today and I did initially fear that the film would keep beating me over the head with scenes depicting racism and discrimination in order to get some shock value. Thankfully, it wasn’t handled this way. Yes, there is discrimination, yes, there is racism. But it is rather fleeting and every time it happens on the screen, it serves a purpose and because it didn’t happen as much as I expected, it was all the more powerful when it did occur.
We need more films like this, because although it is addressing a very dark, depressing subject matter, it still manages to be entertaining and heart-warming. There are moments that will make you angry, the treatment Shirley endured will undoubtedly outrage you, but it won’t linger because this friendship between the duo always manages to provide some light-hearted fun to proceedings that will most definitely touch you in some way. Nothing is taken away from the hard-hitting moments, but the film doesn’t stop to dwell on it and I think that actually elevated the overall impact, because it was almost a metaphor for how this kind of treatment was just a part of daily life, and in some areas, it still is.
It’s really hard to convey the emotions I felt watching this film, but I lost count of the amount of times I just found myself smiling. Even in the face of shocking discrimination and treatment, the enormity of spirit shown by the characters is inspiring and in this day and age, this feels like a story that needs to be told.
Green Book moved me in ways I never imagined, it hit me hard, but it also made me laugh and smile on so many occasions. It highlights just how important friendship is, and how it can change people, even those who are stuck in their ways and have never known any different. Mortensen and Ali have impeccable chemistry and I truly believe this is a film that will become a classic. It’s relevant, shocking, yet also magical, which is something extremely special and unique. It warmed my heart and I’ve found myself smiling as I type this, thinking back on what I’ve seen.
If you see any film this month, you need to make sure it is Green Book.
I give Green Book a 9/10.