Peter Farrelly’s Green Book, starring Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali and Academy Award nominee Viggo Mortensen will be the co-opening night film of the 41st Mill Valley Film Festival. Farrelly and Ali will attend. Matthew Heineman’s A Private War, starring Academy Award nominee Rosamund Pike and Jamie Dornan, was previously announced as one of the two openers.
For classically trained Black jazz piano prodigy Dr. Don Shirley and his white chauffeur and bodyguard Tony Lip, a 1962 concert tour of the American South proves an eye-opening experience in unanticipated ways. Peter Farrelly’s sharply observed drama, spiked with wry humor and inspired by real-life events, features the prodigiously gifted Oscar® winner Mahershala Ali (Moonlight, MVFF 2016) as the ultra-sophisticated, polylingual Shirley, an elegant, mannered outsider wherever he goes and a transformed Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) as his truculent, semi-illiterate lip. Tooling around rural roads in a highly conspicuous turquoise Cadillac and getting into—and barely out of—life-threatening encounters together, each starts to see the real man beyond the other’s surface. The period details are spot-on, and so are the hate and the horror that greet a Black man in the Jim Crow South. Ali and Mortensen are pitch-perfect as an improbably matched pair, often at loggerheads, whose journey reaps unexpected and enduring rewards.
The complete lineup will be announced later today.