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Review: ‘Green Book’ never dives too deep, Mortensen, Ali shine

While “Green Book” never fully fleshes out some interesting topics, Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali deliver award-worthy performances. (Photo courtesy of IMDb)

Reserved for the closing night of Film Fest 919, “Green Book” was one of the most anticipated and critically acclaimed films of the festival, second only to “Roma.” But to be honest, director Peter Farrelly’s project, winner of the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, was a bit underwhelming.

Based on a true story, a blue-collar Italian-American named Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) is hired to drive Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), an award-winning African-American classical pianist, throughout the Deep South on a concert tour.

Considering a majority of the film is Ali and Mortensen going back and forth, it works as an excellent showcase for each of them to show off, but beyond the two brilliant actors, “Green Book” isn’t much more than a typical “unlikely duo” movie.

While it touches on elements of racism and homophobia, it remains fairly tame, only brushing the surface, when a deep dive could have elicited some extremely powerful moments between the two.

From a technical standpoint, the film’s sound mixing is remarkable, seamlessly synchronizing Ali’s mock piano playing with the overlaid audio without ever seeming fake.

Despite being fairly conventional, “Green Book” is still an enjoyable period piece chronicling the improbable development of friends coming from entirely different worlds, highlighted by two sensational performances. Ali is phenomenal as the out of place artist who is cast aside for not being Black enough, yet still not accepted by whites because of his skin color.

Come February expect to see both Mortensen and Ali up for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor, respectively.


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Zach Goins View All

Zach Goins is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association based in Raleigh, N.C. Zach co-founded Inside The Film Room in 2018 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the website and co-host of the podcast. Zach also serves as a film critic for

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