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It looks and sounds exactly like a shaggy dog story: a white New York nightclub bouncer takes a job driving a black pianist around the Deep South on a concert tour – in the 1960’s. What could possibly go wrong? Inspired (as the poster has it) by a true friendship, Green Book clearly has awards bait written all over it, and the double acting powerhouse of Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali is definitely something to look forward to, but perhaps the most surprising aspect of this movie is its director and co-screenwriter, Peter Farrelly. Known, along with his brother Bobby, for some of the most raucous and indelicate of comedies of the last twenty-five years, Farrelly would appear to be an odd choice for a tale of inter-racial harmony, and especially when you consider his last three movies were Hall Pass (2011), The Three Stooges (2012), and Dumb and Dumber To (2014). But the trailer for Green Book – and despite its obvious yearnings for Oscar nominations come February 2019 – shows Farrelly upping his game and getting the measure of both the period and a friendship that doesn’t depend on madcap antics or toilet humour. There is humour, mostly from Mortensen’s less than worldly Tony Lip, but you can see already that his performance won’t be as broad as it looks, while Ali’s exasperated Don Shirley has a quiet sincerity that belies a more passionate soul underneath his reserve. So, early indications are that this could be a movie to resonate with its audience, and in its way, to hold up a mirror to the continuing racial and class divisions that still plague the US fifty years on.

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