‘You never win with violence. You only win when you maintain your dignity…’
Peter Farrelly’s Green Book is probably the most controversial best picture winner since 2004’s Crash, another film that focuses on race. Both films are considered ‘safe’ winners who allowed the Oscar committee to appear multicultural and tolerant without having to nominate anything that is any way challenging. Green Book has been criticised for everything from having white saviour complex to suggesting that racism is a problem that has been left in the past.
Utter nonsense. The responsibility of a filmmaker is to make an entertaining film. That is it. They don’t have to represent every culture, race, religion and sexual preference. They don’t have to incorporate any kind of political preaching or moral message. Often the best films do achieve some of that but there should be no obligation on any artist in any medium to do anything other than create good art. So, to the that end, is Green Book successful in its remit to be a successful movie? Yes, yes it is. And surely that is all that matters?
Dr. Donald Shirley (Mahershala Ali) is a black virtuoso piano player looking to tour the deep south. Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) is employed as his driver and sometime protector on this incident packed journey.
Green Book isn’t perfect of course. It is overly sentimental in places and the true racial tension of the period also feels slightly skirted over, but as a buddy, road trip movie, it has to be viewed as a success. Mortensen and Ali share a wonderful chemistry and it is their performances that enable Green Book to really shine. Mortensen is totally unrecognisable, to the point where I didn’t actually realise he was even in the damn thing until I saw his name in the credits at the end.
Sure, it’s corny and it’s predictable in places but Green Book is also funny, entertaining and genuinely heartwarming. And that’s what cinema is for.