GREEN BOOK GALA D: Peter Farrelly. U.S. 130 min. Sep 15, 3 pm, Princess Of Wales. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Green Book is a road movie, a buddy comedy and a prestige studio release all at once. You will know every beat as it happens you will almost be able to mouth the dialogue along with the characters. But none of that matters because you get to watch Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali exist together, from one moment to the next, giving performances so textured and alive that they knock Peter Farrelly’s movie from “pretty good” to “goddamn transcendent.”
Ali is Don “Doc” Shirley, the renowned jazz pianist Mortensen is Tony Vallelonga, the small-time New York hustler Shirley hired to drive him through the Deep South on tour in the fall of 1962. Shirley was a cultured Black man who lived above Carnegie Hall Vallelonga was an Italian guy from the Bronx. They’re the original odd couple, and the movie plays it for all it’s worth. Doc bristles at Tony’s diction, Tony bristles right back at Doc’s snobbery. But darn it all if they weren’t the best of friends by the end of the trip.
Like I said, there’s never any doubt where Green Book is heading, and director Farrelly – who shares script credit with Tony’s son Nick and Brian Hayes Currie – makes sure it gets there as smoothly as possible.
And while I suspect he simply got out of Mortensen and Ali’s way and let them figure out their chemistry and their timing on their own, that’s the smartest thing he could have done.
It’s a pleasure to watch them electrify this movie, and each other.
Anyway, here’s your People’s Choice Winner.