I haven’t done a movie review on this blog for a while, but this movie has kicked me out of my complacency.
It’s set in the US in the 1960s. A famous African-American pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) is invited for a tour of the Southern States. This being the heyday of racial discrimination in the South, he needs not only a driver but also a bodyguard. This is where the American Italian Tony Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) steps in. Though Tony is prejudiced against African Americans, he desperately needs the cash. Don and Tony are polar opposites. Don Shirley is an educated man, and Tony Vallelonga comes from a class suspiciously close to what we would now call “white trash”. When Tony throws a takeaway drink cup out of a window, Shirley will force him to stop and pick it up…
This is how a slightly crazy tour of the South begins. Over time, the two men form an extraordinary bond of friendship, tested in the trying circumstances of self-interest and racism. The acting is excellent, the jokes are funny and the whole effect is heartwarming. Go see it.
P.S. I am so used to seeing Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn in my head, that having him play an overweight bouncer almost doubled the comedy. But that was just me. My boyfriend didn’t even realize that it was Viggo Mortensen till his name appeared on the credits when the film was over.