- A broken clock works twice a day, and for this film that’s seen in it’s two lead performances. Both Viggo Mortenson and Mahershala Ali here equate to this film’s only true shining light, delivering two strong performances. Mortenson takes the helms of Tony Vallelonga, also known as “Tony Lip”, who is a streetwise no-nonsense Italian-American, who just might have a racist-streak to him as well. Mortenson adds yet another notch to his belt (literally and figurately, as Mortenson gained 45 pounds for the role) with Green Book, as he again seamlessly transforms to his character, proving yet again why he’s one of our finest chameleon actors we have today. Ali on the other hand takes the reins of Dr. Don Shirley, a world famous classical pianist. Ali takes a more eloquent approach to his character, as his soft-spoken well-mannered delivery takes him a long way, so when we finally see him have an outburst, it carries the most of power. But it’s when they come together, when the real magic sets in, as their chemistry is off the charts.
- The entirety of this film is extremely trite and pretty problematic at times as well. This film is essentially a Pandora’s box, when it comes to race-relation narratives. First off we have moments of condescending conversations between Tony and Shirley, where we see Tony introducing him to things of black culture. Which ends up being both eye-rolling and a little repugnant. This film as well brings along the stereotypical “idea” of a person becoming more of one as you spend more time with him. Which comes off just lazy and stale as the film progresses. At times as well this film plays uncomfortably like a white-savior movie rather disguised as a slob-versus-snob comedy. Which comes to no shock as you see Nick Vallelonga, Tony’s actual son, as a credited screenwriter. Which helps to explain why Green Book often regards him as one might regard a bigoted uncle on Facebook: Sure, he’s a little off, but he ultimately “means well”. In the end Green Book gives us two great performances, surrounded by a trite race dramedy, full of phony uplift, that’s subtext is more than problematic.