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Movie Review: What a great Green Book!

Green Book
Movie Review: What a great Green Book!
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About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins has been a reporter with Oakville News since 2016. Covering local news and live events, he specializes in film, theatre, and entertainment. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville over 20 years. Tyler is a proud graduate of Journalism and Performing Arts from Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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Surprise is one of the toughest things to inspire in audiences watching a movie. Green Book is one among those stories that takes something clear ordinary and surprises viewers in the nicest way. The relentless warmth of this true story of Doc and Tony Lip seduces as well as intrigues audiences.

In 1962, Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) escorted Don “Doc” Shirley (Mahershala Ali) on his first concert tour of the southern United States. That road trip began a  life-time friendship.

If it isn’t the single best film of the year, it’s certainly the most enjoyable. The easygoing chemistry between characters and a smoothly unpredictable story make each moment exciting. Even when you suspect what’s coming next, the fact it only does half the time makes each new pit stop better than the last.

Yet this is not your typical story of racism from an episode of modern history. Each inexplicable moment is so believable cynics may scoff at its beauty. Is it really possible such pleasant and authoritative people existed?

Mortensen and Ali give two of the finest performances of any men this year. They each have poise and distinction (though one rougher) on their own. But the cavalcade of scenes where they can play their opposites together are effortless to enjoy. The humanity and honesty they bring to each man’s smile is indescribable.

Green Book

Photo: Universal Pictures

Among director Peter Farrelly’s wise decisions is to give Tony and Don as much time as possible on-screen. The variety of episodes we see them in deepens our appreciation and interest of them. How might they approach each new difference they discover between them? But more importantly, what similarity will they discover to solve it?

Farrelly is better known for his screwball comedies like Dumb and Dumber or There’s Something About Mary. But his years of training as a comedian is perfectly suited to elevate this material. Biography stories rarely mix with the comedy genre because it risks satirizing the lives of real people.

The risk is obvious. Who wants to watch their lives ruined on-screen? Vice, the also wonderful Dick Cheney biopic now playing, is a good example. Instead, Green Book is a comedy that rarely tells jokes. They find natural comedy in the unlikely nature of this true story.

In the American south of 1962, nobody expects the friendship of a white bodyguard and black pianist. The result is one of the year’s best movies. It’s my personal favourite of 2018.

The flurry of questions surrounding the movie’s many paradoxes makes it fascinating.  Green Book special.  It makes smart approachable and humorous.

Green Book

4 out of 4 stars
PG, 2hrs 10mins. Comedy Biopic.
Written and Directed by Peter Farrelly.
Starring Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali and Linda Cardellini.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas and Cineplex Winston Churchill.


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