There is a certain sort of film that defies classification. The quick description is the sort of film that is not perfect by any stretch of the term, but which contains just a little something that manages to hit on a collective pathos in the audience. Those films release a positive feeling into the audience that can actually be felt when one is in such an environment. Green Book is just such a film: it can be lazy and generic at times, but it is just so heartwarming.
The latest feature from Peter Farrelly—yes, THAT Peter Farrelly behind Dumb & Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, and The Three Stooges—follows the relationship between the black classical pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) and his Italian driver Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) as they go on tour through the 1960s American south. When a well-viewed individual thinks of what this film will be, that is basically what this film is. They go to a location, racism occurs, repeat. That is not to say that the story is trite, but just that it is not particularly novel. However, what Green Book lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in chemistry between the filmmaker and the actors.
Farrelly is much more famous for his scatological comedies, but those films still have a little bit of heart. This most-recent effort is basically one of those films with the heart dialled up. Green Book has so many laugh-out-loud moments while refusing to give into the cynicism that comes with Farrelly’s more famed brand of comedy. On top of that, Mortensen and Ali work so well together and off of each other – you would almost believe that their interactions are part of a documentary.
Here’s the honest truth about Green Book: Is it perfect? No. Is it original? No. Is it sincere? Oh, no, it was most definitely designed as “Oscar bait”. But is it worth the price of admission if you are looking for a heartwarming, feel-good film that isn’t dripping with sap? Absolutely. Expect this film to be nominated for a few Oscars and denounced by the digital film critics but, in the mean time, enjoy Green Book for what it is.
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Shahbaz Khayambashi: @Shakhayam