“Green Book” Is More Than a Reverse Driving Miss Daisy

Green Book, a semi-true story about a black concert pianist being chauffeured around the early 1960’s deep South by a white Italian racist New Yorker with the deepest of accents, tries to be a reverse Driving Miss Daisy with Viggo Mortensen assuming the Morgan Freeman role and Mahershala Ali assuming the Jessica Tandy Miss Daisy function.

While Driving Miss Daisy was a soft as a feather light comedy of genteel culture versus soulful class, a pairing of equal temperaments susceptible to cross cultural bonding; Green Book is a pairing of cultivation and coarseness that requires a balancing of the deft and the obvious in a heartfelt way.

For a Farrelly Brothers drama only the more serious brother need apply. That means Peter Farrelly gets the honors this time.

The main comedy and point is that the Ali and Mortensen characters must teach each other just enough cultural appropriation stereotypes to be comfortable in their own skin. Mortensen gives Ali enough black to give him soul and Ali gives Mortensen enough culture to give him some airs.

Peter Farrelly does a good job of keeping Green Book from getting too over-toned.

This is integration through the applying of segregational obviousness. The audience must see it, know it, and approve it for it to work. Like desegregation which has mixed results in real life but total success when onscreen, it is a lot harder than it looks.

Photos and videos courtesy of Universal Studios Pictures

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