In my growing attempts to be worldly without descending into the depression of current affairs, I’m preparing for the Oscars (the irony, I know, is palpable). Nominated for Best Picture and tipped for a Supporting Actor win, ‘Green Book’ was next on my list.
It’s hard to categorise this film into one genre – the serious subject matter has lighter moments, whilst being neither comedy nor drama. The humour is subtle and delivered well by both leads, which was unexpected considering director Peter Farrelly’s CV (I watched ‘Dumb and Dumber’ at a sleepover when I was 9, didn’t even find it funny then). Yet the drama aspect, racial relations in 1960s Deep South, was dealt with far too softly.
There were many opportunities to really delve into finer points of segregation, beyond the simplistic message of “Racism is Bad”. Shirley’s homosexuality is dealt with racially rather than at an intersectional level. Italian vs. African-American is placed on a hierarchy of oppression, rather than acknowledging their relative difficulty within society. I always wanted just a little more, a further nuance to elevate it from simple buddy movie.
Despite this, an audience is forgiven for overlooking such issues due to the likability of Tony and Don. Although predictable and a little stereotypical, Mortensen and Ali charm the screen with easy repartee and genuine friendship.
It’s feel good without the tagline ‘Feel Good’, a touching story despite its somewhat condensed nature. Worth a watch, but not Best Picture.