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Green Book
幸 福 绿 皮 书

Opening Date
24 Jan 2019
PG13 Some Coarse Language
129 mins
English - subtitles to be advised
Biography, Comedy, Drama
Peter Farrelly
Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini
When Tony Lip (Academy Award nominee Viggo Mortensen), a bouncer from an Italian-American neighborhood in the Bronx, is hired to drive
Dr. Don Shirley (Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali), a world-class Black pianist, on a concert tour from Manhattan to the Deep South, they must rely on “The Green Book” to guide them to the few establishments that were then safe for African-Americans. Confronted with racism, danger as well as unexpected humanity and humor—they are forced to set aside differences to survive and thrive on the journey of a lifetime.
By Say Peng  24 Jan 2019
An uplifting and funny based-on-a-true-story tale of a friendship between a racist chauffeur (Viggo Mortensen) and an African-American jazz pianist (Mahershala Ali).
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The Green Book in question refers to a guidebook for traveling “Colored” people looking for safe and approved accommodations. It was handed to Tony Vallelonga, an out-of-work Italian-American bouncer played by Viggo Mortensen, by an executive from the record company behind African-American jazz pianist Don Shirley, played by Mahershala Ali, before Vallelonga sets off with Shirley on the latter’s eight-week concert tour through the Deep South.

The structure of the road trip concert tour through the Deep South provides the framework for the film to examine the deep-seated racism of America in the 60s, while the pairing of the uptight, prim and proper Shirley with the brutish, mildly racist, but nevertheless still good-hearted Vallelonga provides both ample comic relief through their conflict of values and a chance to examine up-close how institutional racism turn even essentially decent people into bigots.

Ali and Mortensen are great in their respective roles and more than great in their scenes together. Putting on an Italian accented slang and a great deal of weight to look the part, Mortensen plays Vallelonga with light-hearted relish and aplomb. Mortensen has already proved in ‘Captain Fantastic’ that he can do comedy, so what Mortensen has done here, while good, is no surprise. The surprise, instead, comes from Ali, who, in this role, shows his promise as a low-key, almost dead-pan, comic actor.

It’s no spoiler to reveal that by the end of the film, after experiencing first-hand and upfront the violent and vulgar manifestations of racism, Vallelonga reneges his casual racism and embraces his new friend. The film is uplifting and inspirational, a welcome in our divisive times, although some might find Vallelonga’s journey from casual racist to enlightened brute too “Hollywood”. It’s Shirley, on the other hand, who has the more interesting and nuanced character change, thereby enabling Ali to turn in a more rewarding and subtle performance.

While ‘Green Book’ does not have the same socially-conscious, zeitgeisty comic bite of ‘Get Out’ and ‘BlacKkKlansman’, its simple, straightforward, and cinematically conservative story, with a white lead actor, can be a more effective way to get conversations going and minds changed for the film’s less socially liberal audiences.
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