I was fortunate enough to see the Peter Farrelly flick Green Book on Thursday. The film has been receiving a ton of critical acclaim and award show nominations for its leading men Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. Mahershala, according to Gold Derby, is the frontrunner to win Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars next year, which would be his second win in that category in three years if that were to happen (he previously won for Moonlight).
All of this helped my anticipation grow as I sat down inside the theater to watch the movie. Green Book tells the story of a classic Italian bouncer type named Tony Lip (Mortensen) living in The Bronx who gets hired to drive around African-American world-class pianist Dr. Don Shirley (Ali) on his tour through the deep south back in the 1960’s. The movie is based on a true story.
Lip’s character in the beginning of the film is certainly racist, as he throws out glasses that two African-American men drank from who helped with something in their house. It was something that Lip’s wife, Dolores (brilliantly played by Linda Cardenelli), discovers shortly after he does it, much to her dismay.
Lip runs into financial issues in the beginning of the movie after an incident that occurred outside a New York City club called The Copacabana, where he does odds and ends to secure cash including beating a heavy-set man in a hot dog eating contest for a measly $50.
He gets offered to interview for a driving position with someone he believes to be a doctor, which only turns out to be the name that Don’s character is preceded by. He initially turns down the offer from Dr. Don due to the piano player asking him to do more than just drive (iron his clothes, etc) but then changes his mind after Don calls Dolores and asks if it will be ok for him to be away for several months while he’s on tour.
The film then chronicles Tony and Dr. Don’s time on the road, as they go through the south and endure several racist moments along the way. This includes Don being beaten up at a bar, problematic cop activity on the side of the road and much more.
Something that I wasn’t expecting to happen during the film was for there to be a gay moment that occurs about halfway through. Spoiler alert if you don’t want to read on.
Lip rushes to a local YMCA where Don is caught naked with another man. Both men look incredibly ashamed and given the time period the consequences for them could’ve been drastically severe. It’s an interesting scene, given that homosexuality at this time was brutally condemned, and you have a character like Lip who was already somewhat of a racist in the beginning of the film. At this point, he could’ve easily bailed on Don, but he doesn’t. Instead, he does something truly spectacular the sets the tone for how the rest of the movie will go.
I don’t want to give too much of the film away, however I must say that Green Book was remarkable and worth the two hours and change for watching. This has been a great year for movie-making, and what Viggo, Mahershala, Linda, Peter and the rest of the cast were able to do with this story is nothing short of amazing. Go see it.
This post was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.