Green Book, aka “Reverse Driving Miss Daisy,” turns a remarkable life into a unremarkable film. The plot follows Tony, an Italian stereotype played by Viggo Mortensen, as he escorts the jazz pioneer Don Shirley, played by Mahershala Ali, through a tour of the southern United States. Along the way, these polar opposites find common ground and we witness their friendship grow. Sound familiar? That’s because it is. Now, retreading common ground that’s been established by other films wouldn’t be a problem if there were other exceptional aspects in the movie to latch onto, but unfortunately, the presentation of the film is as bland as its middling script. Viggo’s performance is decently entertaining, but his character is nothing more than a pizza-folding, chain-smoking, “bafangool”-spouting, “Capital I” Italian caricature. Viggo tries his hardest with the material he’s given, but this is a perfect example of why an actor is only as good as their script. Mahershala kind of sucks in this role, as his apathy towards the film bleeds into his performance…but considering how much the screenwriters disgraced Don Shirley’s legacy, I can hardly blame him. Now, don’t me wrong, the movie is competently made and decently watchable but it’s difficult to justify spending time watching this film when there’s plenty of movies that tackle similar subjects in more interesting ways (i.e. Blindspotting, which also came out last year.) It’s not a disaster necessarily, just disingenuous. I’m giving this one a 5/10.
Written by Dominic Dold