Okay, no kidding, “The Green Book” is easily the finest film I have seen in YEARS. Scanning back through my personal favorites, nothing even close comes to mind except “The Green MILE” – so that’s a bit weird. And Stephen King’s masterpiece about a man with healing power came out in 1999! This wonderful movie is right up there: it’s pitch-perfect on every level.
A classically trained black pianist is about to tour the Deep South in 1962, giving concerts in many venues where he can perform as a headliner, but not eat as a diner, or sleep as a hotel guest, or use the restroom as a . . . human person. So his recording firm hires a driver, and the two men are armed with “The Green Book,” a list of places where colored folk can safely stay and eat while in lovely places like Mississippi where cops can pull you over and rough you up for just being out past sunset.
Viggo Mortensen has added at least 60 pounds from his days as Aragorn in “Lord of the Rings,” and you honestly wouldn’t recognize him on the screen. But he perfectly fits the role of Tony, a loudmouth two-bit street hustler whose demeanor is right out of “The Godfather.” Italian, Catholic, wise guy, whattayakiddinme? His wife is played by Linda Cardellini, formerly of “E.R.,” and she has a wonderful brief role.
Both Mortensen and Mahershala Ali (“4400,” “Moonlight”) go through scene after scene in such wonderful form; this truly is a moving and inspiring story about race and learning to understand and appreciate one another. When do you take a stand and when do you deliver a soft answer and live to fight another day?
I won’t give away anything of the plot, but if you see this great film you will not be sorry. One more thing: if Ali and Mortensen aren’t both nominated for Best Actor, and if one of the two doesn’t win the award, I’m gonna stand outside the Dolby Theater in sackcloth and ashes.