I often have misgivings about movies that are based on real life events, and similar misgivings about movies that win ‘Best Picture’ at the Academy awards. While they can be relied upon to be thought-provoking and powerful, they can also be a little bit hard going. I had no doubt that 2018’s Green Book would be meritorious but I wasn’t especially expecting to be hugely entertained by it.
However, entertaining it is. Of course there are some unavoidable themes about racism and segregation, as signposted by the movie’s title – the Green book in question being a guide for African-American motorists to circumnavigate the prevalence of discrimination they were likely to encounter on their travels. Although racism is clearly a significant aspect of the movie, as much as anything, Green Book is about the relationship between the two central characters and race is only one of the factors that plays a part in that dynamic.
Both Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are superb in the leading roles and help to make a movie that could easily have become bogged down in its own worthiness into something that succeeds in hitting many of the right dramatic notes as well as achieving some pretty funny comedic moments too.
Score for Christmasishness
Although the film spans an eight-week period, we are made aware quite early on that Christmas is going to play a significant part later in the narrative. The final third is quite clearly set in the build-up to Christmas, and there are decorations aplenty in the background. The denouement even takes place on a snowy Christmas eve and the final scenes are set at a family Christmas gathering. So all in all it’s a pretty Christmas(ish) movie.