“It takes courage to change peoples hearts.”
Viggo Mortensen is coming for you, Academy. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
The New Orleans Film Festival is back for its 29th season, and the lineup this year is putting spotlight on the South. With over 6000 submissions including feature films, documentaries, shorts, music videos and interactive films, the festival offers submissions that “champions voices that are not always represented on-screen or behind the camera,” says artistic director Clint Bowie.
Opening night of the NOFF included the higher-profile submission Green Book, which was shot almost entirely in my hometown of New Orleans.
Based on a true story, a working-class Italian-American bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist (Mahershala Ali) on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South.
Being called a modern-day Driving Miss Daisy, Green Book isn’t without flaws, but will easily be on all our lips come award season.
The title of the film comes from the “Negro Motorist Green Book,” a publication designed to tell African-Americans where they could safely eat and stay in the South during the days of segregation.
Known for comedy classics like Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary, director Peter Farrelly dips into uncharted dramatic territory departing from his comedic roots. Despite its serious tone, the movie has more laughs than you would think woven in scene to scene. “I’d been telling people for about a year, ‘Yeah, I’m doing my first drama,’ and I didn’t realize how funny it was until seeing the three of you acting it out,” the director said. “On paper, that was not that funny; I don’t think anybody would read that script and say, ‘Boy, that’s a lot of laughs.’ But there’s a lot of laughs in this movie.”
In a festival circuit with statement pieces like Roma or If Beale Street Could Talk, a lot of feedback I’m reading regarding Green Book all have a slight hint of condescension: charming, crowd-pleasing, sweet.
And their sentiments aren’t wrong. I feel like a poor sport not loving Green Book as much as I’d hoped. It is sweet and charming, which is okay, but it follows a very clichéd, formulaic route that is not only predictable but very safe. It’s undoubtedly a meaningful look at class and race in America, but it doesn’t feel like something I haven’t seen before.
The champions of the film are, without hesitation, the two leading actors – Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen. This is a performance-driven film, and while I love Ali, this is really Mortensen’s Academy Award to lose.
While this movie may follow a conventional path, it’s not one to be overlooked. It won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, and Ali and Mortensen have won my heart…again. Check this movie out for its performances and expect to see their names pop up again for award season.
13 thoughts on “#NOFF2018 Green Book”
Thanks for the review – I’m looking forward to seeing Ali and Mortensen’s performances in Green Book.
I had no idea Farelly directed this. Wow. I’ll definitely see it.
Definitely see it for Viggo and Mahershala! I wish I’d stayed for the Q&A portion with Farelly!
Nice review! I’m looking forward to this one, and super surprised it’s directed by the guy who did Dumb and Dumber. Mortensen and Ali look like an amazing combo, even if the story/direction might be a little cliche.
You gotta see it for Ali and Mortensen. 100% nominations coming their way for this one!
I’m sure I’ll love this one, I adore such warm films 🙂 and Cooper is winning everything but hopefully Viggo is at least nominated!
VIGGO WILL BE NOMINATED. It’s going to be a fight to the death between Viggo/Cooper.
Viggo is my man crush. He was great in Captain Fantastic, so if there are a lot of laughs here i expect he will excel. He can do everything! Though…. I’d love to see him as a villain, in a bond movie or something. Or maybe he has done it and I’ve missed it?
And if he does get nominated, he won’t win. He should have at least two awards – Captain Fantastic and Eastern Promises – he made those movies, which sounds like the case here.
But what can you do eh? It is what it is!
He was SO great in Captain Fantastic…one of my favorite movies of that year.
Me too 😀 how about that red suit!!
That said, it would be very cool if he wins. I’m a little obsessed with him 😛
I was so surprised to see Peter Farrelly as director and I too find it more humorous than I thought, given the subject matter. I really like this one that it ended up on my Top 10. LOVE Viggo’s performance but Mahershala is always wonderful to watch. It’s definitely my fave cinematic duo in 2018!