Green Book review: Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen shine in a bromance that's as insightful as it is charming

Melissa York
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Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali in Green Book

A Best Picture nominee about racism in the USA isn’t usually an uplifting experience. On paper, Green Book, the true story of a New Yorker chauffeur tasked with safely getting an African American pianist from gig to gig in the segregated South, sounds like it could be a long, hard grind.

But Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, who play the chauffeur and pianist respectively, create a dynamic bromance that’s joyous to behold. Prepare to watch Ali play like Liberace and Mortensen eat like Pavarotti.

Mortensen is unrecognisable as Tony, a rough-and-ready family man that plays to every macho, Italian American stereotype there is. Ali’s character, Dr Don Shirley, on the other hand, is haughty, a proud snob trying to run away from everything society expects of him as an African American. The result is he’s chronically lonely and has never eaten fried chicken. While on tour, they battle with class, rednecks and toxic masculinity.

As charming as it is insightful, this is the stirring film about man-love we all need right now.