Thursday, 21 March 2019

‘Segregation’ tale is the people’s choice

‘Segregation’ tale is the people’s choice

WHEN you hear that a film is by the Farelly brothers, you pretty much know what to expect. But what if it’s only one of the brothers?

In carving out their own genre, Peter and Bobby Farrelly created such undisputed classics of it as Dumb and Dumber, There’s Something About Mary, and Me, Myself and Irene.

Then in September last year, Peter Farrelly’s Green Book won the audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Shortly afterwards, following its release in US cinemas, the National Board of Review named it the best film of 2018. Shallow Hal it ain’t.

A comedy-drama, Green Book has now been nominated for a total of five Oscars: Best Picture, Best Actor (Viggo Mortensen), Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing.

Based on a true story, the film is set in 1962. New York City bouncer, Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga is looking for work after the nightclub he works at closes for renovations.

He gets a job interview with “Doc” Don Shirley, a black pianist who is looking for a driver for an eight-week concert tour through America’s still segregated Deep South.

Tony gets the gig, but Don’s record company advise the pair that during the tour they must rely on “The Green Book” — a real-life guide to the restaurants, motels and filling stations that are safe for African-American travellers to use.

Embarking on their journey, Tony and Don initially clash as Don is disgusted by some of Tony’s personal habits and Tony feels uncomfortable at being asked to act with more refinement.

As the tour progresses, however, Tony is greatly impressed by Don’s talent on the piano and increasingly appalled by the discriminatory treatment he receives from their hosts and the general public when he is not on stage. After a group of men threaten Don’s life in a bar and Tony is forced to rescue him, he becomes his bodyguard as well as his driver.

He tells Don not to go out without him for the rest of the tour and the pair are soon on their way to becoming inseparable.

Funny, moving and thought-provoking all at once, Green Book tells the uplifting true story of an unlikely friendship that transcended race and class.

The film takes audiences on a surprisingly smooth ride through potentially bumpy subject matter, fuelled by Peter Farrelly’s deft touch and an extremely well-matched pair of leads.

Green Book is now showing at Henley’s Regal Picturehouse cinema.

Matthew Wilson

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