Effortlessly excellent is what comes to mind when thinking about Green Book. The movie could have been easily gone wrong, but every aspect from the writing to directing is handled with such finesse that Bruno Mars can’t even match.
The writing, directing and acting here knock it out the park throughout the film. I never felt like I was watching a film but living a journey that I wanted to go on forever.
The story revolves around bouncer Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) getting extra work by driving famous black pianist Dr. Shirley (Mahershala Ali) around the US. Oh yeah, it’s the 1960’s and the locations are in the deep south. No biggie, well for Luke Cage at least, but Shirley isn’t bulletproof and war zone would be a safer drive for him than touring the deep south.
Not a moment is wasted in these 2 hours and it was a blast to watch all the way to the credits. It’s a bit cliché to say it had me at the edge of my seat, but so is throwing shade at the dinner table on Thanksgiving and that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable either.
Green Book. Red Face
This movie is genuinely funny, more so than most of the films marketed as comedies this year. I can’t count the times I blew out the eardrums of the people sitting next to me from cackling so hard. Not laughs, but rather unflattering “should we call for help?” cackles and I enjoyed every minute.
Watching Shirley and Tony’s relationship unfold and grow is quite interesting. You get incredibly invested in the will-they-won’t-they dynamic. Tony is a product of the times and has bigot tendencies, but to see where he ends up by the credits well earned.
A lot of the best scenes take place in or around the car, like a play the movie lives off of the characters and writing. The duos interactions are great as you have the brash Tony who irons his clothes by leaving it under the bed overnight. Then, there’s the reserved Dr. Shirley who walks around a fancy high-rise in kings clothing like he is T’Challa.
The movie takes serious turns when needed to show the struggles Shirley goes through in 60’s “separate but equal” America. The movie is never heavy-handed and every messed up scene that came up stuck with me after even when the comedy returned.
Make no mistake, this is a road trip movie that features a surprising amount of a comedy with tear-inducing drama sprinkled in. It is rare for a flick to balance both elements so well, leaving the audience’s faces red from laughter and crying.
This could have turned into “yuck, yuck, look at they’re opposites!”, but no both these characters are more complex than that. This story while simple, has layers to it that has scenes like the Plantation scenes.
Our protagonists briefly find themselves outside a plantation for 30 seconds, but the expressions between Ali and the workers spoke volumes. This movie is not about that at all and doesn’t hit you over the head with stuff seen 1000 times over.
The movie has a ton of visually striking imagery that sticks with you. Nothing is wasted in making the audience feel like they’re teleported back to the ’60’s. From every lamp to the silk in a suit, everything on the screen immersed me in the world.
The score is a mix of swing and classical that really enhances every single scene it plays in. There is a scene where Dr. Shirley kills it on piano, this is equivalent of Ash Ketchum turning his hat backward.
The song is so sonically expressive, it got me as hype as when“The Next Episode” chords play on a speaker. Instead of crip-walking, everyone was doing “The Carlton” and it almost had my feet tapping like rain on a window during a storm.
Period films will knock you with countless references to remind you when it takes place. This doesn’t happen here, everything feels natural, songs from the time aren’t shoved in your face and characters don’t constantly reference big events.
STOP READING THIS. GO SEE IT
A lot of these types of films aim to get awards and end up being the most boring things on the planet. They are usually more suited for Best Nyquil substitute than Best Film. I guess Green Book is ruled out because it not only fantastic from start to finish, it is low-key a great Christmas movie in disguise.
This is not a musical but rather a road trip movie with two of the most captivating leads anyone can ask for in Ali and Mortensen. The supporting cast adds very dynamic interactions that allow for fascinating encounters for the leads and anticipation for who they meet next.
It is not often a movie has me gushing about it, but I’ll be damned if Green Book didn’t give me a hell of a night. I’m gonna definitely see it again soon, maybe even take it to the next step and buy the DVD later. Spicy stuff I know.