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Green Book, Peter Farrelly

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Film Review. Title: Green Book / Director: Peter Farrelly / Released: 2018

looking at the nominations for the Best Picture Oscar one cannot ignore the intimate nature of Green Book. And while it could be argued that this feature film is an ideal candidate for the Oscars, there is little on offer when it comes to artistic merit. The plot, for example, has all the ingredients for a successful Oscar-nominee: an intellectual pianist of African-American origin called Don Shirley (a remarkable performance by Mahersala Ali) hires an Italian-American bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) to be his chauffeur/personal assistant while he’s on a tour.

It’s easy to predict what follows next: they will both go through a lot of difficult situations together and instil new insights in each other’s personality.

Despite the simplistic storyline, the film’s strongest asset in this case is the character of Dr. Don Shirley, who could easily be representing a not so insignificant part of our society: people among us who are too highly cultivated to hang around the average person and are put at a distance either because of peculiar character traits or due to their racial origin. In this role, Mahersala Ali is truly exceptional and not just because of the acting devices he comes up with: his gestures, his high-brow accent and vocabulary, and so on. Where he excels is in his restrained attitude even during the most outrageous incidents he has to put up with. It is this taciturn side that paradoxically reveals the turbulent spirit of the lone artist. Viggo Mortensen’s portrayal of the feisty Tony Lip is also excellent, even though it doesn’t reach Mahersala Ali’s heights.

To sum up, the fact that this is an outdated storyline with equal measures of straight-forward, no-nonsense direction leaves little room for further analysis, hence the very short review. Still, this is a worthwhile film, backed up by some strong acting, even if this is familiar Hollywood territory.

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