There have only been a handful of thoughtful dramas in 2018 so far. This genre, once home to countless Oscar-bait films, has downsized significantly in recent years as audiences change. However, Green Book‘s first trailer shows that, at least for this film, the traditional drama is not dead.
Green Book stars Viggo Mortensen as Tony Lip, a bouncer who takes a job driving and protecting Dr. Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), a gifted black pianist on a concert tour winding its way through the Deep South. Evidenced by the trailer, Mortensen and Ali have some excellent on-screen chemistry, with both actors in roles far riskier than anything they’ve done previously.
Ali has given great performances as a weathered and confident tough-guy in shows like House of Cards and Moonlight, but seldom has he appeared on-screen as a character thrust out of his comfort zone. Mortensen often finds work embodying an idyllic hero or a refined professional in films like The Lord of the Rings, Eastern Promises or Hidalgo. Yet here Mortensen is a schlubby security guard who knows next to nothing about black culture.
The trailer looks like it will hit all the beats of the ‘unlikely-friendship’ drama. Characters know little about each other, and slowly learn that they have more in common than they thought, all while overcoming adversity together and learning to appreciate their similarities and their differences. It’s a tried and true structure, but with excellent actors leading the film, Green Book has a shot at being a truly special movie.
Green Book is directed by Peter Farrelly and arrives in theaters November 21, 2018.