Review: Green Book

Review: Green Book

4th February 2019 Off By Ewan Gleadow

The ever-looming awards season strikes fear into the hearts of arts critics across the globe, causing a mad dash to wrap up compilation articles of nominations, suggesting winners that inevitably are always be wrong. It’s not the easiest time to be an arts informer, but it’s the best time too. 

Green Book is the final Best Picture nomination we had to view, so there’s an element of completion to coincide with this review. Peter Farrelly’s newest directorial piece follows the story of Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), who is tasked with chauffeuring Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) around the Deep South for a concert tour.  

Mortensen is definitely the underdog of the Oscars season, with his performance as Tony Lip as memorable and career-defining as his role in Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring and its subsequent sequels. Some strong dialogue is definitely helpful in fleshing out Lip as a person, his growth throughout the film is predictable but hits all the right notes along the way. It’s the definition of Oscar bait, but Mortensen is no stranger to that, with his role here being the third Best Actor nod he’s received. 

The rest of the cast do as well as expected, with Mahershala Ali predictably brilliant in his role as Don Shirley. Chemistry is the key selling point of this movie, and it’s great to see Ali and Mortensen provide a vividly enjoyable relationship throughout. Again, it screams of Oscar bait, which does put a damper on proceedings. It doesn’t distract all that much, it just feels a tad shallow, and there’s definitely room for extra exploration of these characters. 

The superb utilisation of cinematography and soundtrack throughout is no surprise either, further highlighting the superb chemistry between the two leads and making the movie a visual treat the whole way through. 

But Green Book does face several problems along the way, mostly in the form of some poor and predictable pacing that really bolster the cliché aspects throughout. A montage of concert halls and performances from Shirley is put in place of any actual growth or character development. Granted, we see this later in the movie, but the use of a montage shot always has an overbearing feeling of cheapness to it.  

Green Book is a rare biopic that can be enjoyable regardless of how much or little you know of the subject matter. We didn’t know it was based on a true story, we just knew it had been nominated for several awards. However, as the movie bets solely on its chemistry and solid direction, it feels somewhat lacking as a Best Picture nomination.