With a couple of days to go before the Oscars ceremony, Andrew Riley looks at one of the front runners for the top award. Green Book.
I’ve been a fan of Viggo Mortensen going back as far as “A History of Violence”.
Yes, he’d appeared in many films before then, but when he took that lead role, he was transformed into a lead actor of real presence. From then on, in this writers opinion, he’s grown and grown into one of the finest lead actors.
We see him here share the screen with Mahershala Ali, who has grown into a leading actor, as a working-class Italian-American bouncer who becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.
Based on a true story, it shines from start to finish as one of THE films of the last 12 months.
As they get to know each other throughout the eight weeks of the tour, we see each of them come to change. In one opening scene, we see Mortensen pick up two glasses that have been used by a pair of coloured workmen in his home and put them into the bin, rather than wash them and use them himself.
Yes, he’s prejudiced, but so is the pianist played by Ali.
Almost an outcast from his own race, because he’s been pampered in the New York glitterati who fawn over his playing and has never really suffered some of the racism people of his colour have had to put up with.
Neither fish nor fowl, he struggles to be accepted as he tours the deep south during the ’60s.
This is not helped when the Dr is caught In flagrante delicto with a white gentleman in a hotel pool, the Dr can’t quite believe that Tony is as good as his word in dealing with any situations that come up without judging him for his sexuality or race.
As the pair travel from concert to concert, Mortensen and Ali gradually begin to respect and change and grow into each others company, the Dr helping Tony write his letters to his wife that he promised to send her from the road, and Tony turning down an offer of better pay from some wise guys to stay with the Dr.
What we have here is a buddy movie for the 21st century. It’s a superb piece of work, and the direction by Peter Farrelly is fantastic. The interplay between the two leads is subtle and handled so very well.
Take two opposites, lock them in a car with each other for two months, add in the deeply ingrained racism of the time, and you see that both are struggling to make their own way in the world.
It’s easy to see why this is one of the favourites for Oscar glory.
Prejudice abounds across the tour, and as stoically as Ali tries to brave it out, eventually, something has to give.
This film is easily one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. Would I put money on it winning the Oscar?
No, I think Roma has that sewn up.
What it does show is why when people like Jussie Smollett should never work in the industry again after his “stunt”.