We’re pleased to announce that our Editor has almost finished his very first book. He started reading it when he was 5 and now, decades later, he’s almost finished ‘The Hungry Caterpiller’ (You’re fired! – Ed). Green Book however is a different matter altogether. Co written and directed by Peter Farrelly better known for his outrageous comedies this is based on a true life story of a celebrated classical pianist being chaffeur driven across the southern US states by a working class Italian American nightclub bouncer with mob connections.
Viggo Mortensen plays Tony Lip, a heavy smoking heavy, pot bellied only too happy to have his palm greased with greenbacks at the night club he works at as a Maitre D. Fast with ideas as to how to make a fast buck off them he fights with his fists to sort out problems at the club. But when the club temporarily closes down he finds himself without income but with a family still to support and refusing well paid work from the mob he wangles his way into working for a Dr Shirley (Mahershala Ali) as a chauffeur only to find that the Dr is a black pianist about to set out on a tour of the Deep South. Not an obvious problem but this is 1962 with the civil rights movement not in effect and the black population segregated from the white which is only too apparent in America’s southern states at the time. It only aggravates the locals that Lip a white man is seen driving Dr Shirley who is a smartly dressed, refined and extremely well spoken black man.
It hardly helps that Lip’s decidedly working class extended family throw casual racial epithets around at the dinner table unaware that he’s taking the job and he’s absorbed into that sort of mentality which is soon to be challenged when he gets to see first-hand how the black population endure in their day to day existence. So, we do get to see the racist US cops, the ‘coloured only’ hotels, in fact segregation is everywhere and even when the Dr performs at a well to do upper class mansion for a variety of dignitaries he is barred from using the household toilet and told to use the one in a wooden hut in the garden. It’s the same at a restaurant where he is refused entry before he performs. From a modern day perspective it’s almost too incredible to believe and Dr Shirley refuses to kow-tow even if it means inconveniencing himself.
Director Peter Farrelly captures the period well and this ultimately is brilliant bromance road trip move starting off as a clash of cultures with each inevitably learning from each other with a slightly corny Christmas ending that’s not dissimilar from, of all movies, ‘Planes, Trains and Automobiles’. But perhaps the biggest revelation is Farrelly showing an untapped ability for drama. It’s unusual because of some of the comedies he has written in the past that include, ‘There’s Something about Mary’ & ‘Dumb and Dumber’ were less than subtle with some dubious jokes and there’s a joke here about Dr Shirley being served with fried chicken and corn that perfectly makes a pointed comment about whites stereotypical image of the black population. But at the centre of Green Book there’s two great performances which has rightly attracted award nominations.
Here’s the Green Book trailer……..