New York City 1962, bouncer Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), finds himself in need of a job while he waits for the Copacabana to complete renovations. He is asked to with Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali, Moonlight) for an eight-week job as his driver. To Tony’s surprise, Shirley isn’t a medical doctor, but a renowned classical pianist who lives in a gorgeous apartment atop Carnegie Hall. Even more shocking? Dr. Shirley is Black.
Headed out on a concert tour, and he needs someone like Tony–a fast talking bouncer–to look after him, if trouble should arise as the tour moves down South. Tony agrees to take the job, the money is good, but his own prejudices have him leery of his employer. As for Dr. Shirley, he’s never spent time with anyone as rough around the edges as Tony. As the days pass, and the two men spend time together on the road, they forge a strong bond that becomes a friendship by the time they return to New York City.
Based on a true story, Green Book is directed by Peter Farrelly (Something About Mary), the movie has received mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike. While there’s a lot to like about this story involving a ‘unique’ relationship, some argue that the story is nothing more than an inverted retelling of Driving Miss Daisy, and that this is yet another instance of racism in America as seen through a white man’s perspective. While those criticisms certainly have merit–there’s one scene where Tony starts lecturing Don about his own Blackness that proves cringeworthy–ultimately, the authentic performances of Ali and Mortensen alleviated many concerns I had. The two leads have excellent chemistry, and their numerous scenes together, often in the relative quiet of their car, or a roadside stop, allows the audience to watch as trepidation turns into respect, and eventually friendship.
That said, one can’t help but feel Dr. Shirley gets the short end of the stick occasionally. As I stated earlier, when Tony lectured him about his Blackness left a sour taste in my mouth. However, since the script was co-written by Tony’s son Nick Vallelonga with Brian Currie, it’s not surprising the story would be weighted the way it is. I have no idea how true the story is, but what’s there is captivating, largely due to the lead actors who inhabited the characters so well.
Presented in its original 2.00:1 aspect ratio, Green Book looks spectacular in 4K. Fine detail is exceptional throughout, along with excellent shadow detail and fine hues. The clarity of the image is top notch, with rich and natural color reproduction. Flesh tones appear normal.
The Dolby Atmos Surround track is as strong as the visuals. Directional audio is used well when appropriate. The effectiveness of the Atmos audio really shows up when one of the many music tracks in the film plays. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout.
English, English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
The 4K Ultra HD disc release of Green Book includes the theatrical version of the movie in 4K on the UHD disc, as well as the Blu-ray with the same three featurettes found on both. A Digital HD Copy of the film.
- Virtuoso Performance (SDR, 4:10) Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen discuss their characters, chemistry, working together, and more.
- An Unforgettable Friendship (HDR, 5:09) Cast and crew discuss the friendship between Tony and Dr. Shirley. The filmmakers discuss the use of historical documents to craft the story, the use of music in the film, and the contributions of Tony’s son.
- Going Beyond The Green Book (HDR, 4:20) A brief history of the real “Green Book” from which the movie takes its title.
Green Book (2018)
Movie title: Green Book
Director(s): Peter Farrelly
Actor(s): Viggo Mortensen, Linda Cardellini , Mahershala Ali , Don Stark , P.J. Byrne , Sebastian Maniscalco
Genre: Biography, Comedy, Drama