The Oscar-winning film where Viggo Mortensen played a “dumbass”
(Credit: Netflix)

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The Oscar-winning film where Viggo Mortensen played a "dumbass"

A few weeks ago, the internet raged over Margot Robbie’s perceived snub at the Oscars this year, largely overshadowing the historic nomination of Lily Gladstone in the Best Actress category. But controversies surrounding nominations and wins at the Oscars are nothing new. The Best Picture winner at the 91st Academy Award, currently being watched by millions on Netflix, came with its own set of controversies

Directed by Peter Farrelly and starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali, Green Book is the controversial 2018 Best Picture winner that has climbed up the eighth spot on the top ten films chart on Netflix UK this week. The film tells the story of a working-class Italian-American bouncer, Tony Vallelonga, who becomes the driver of an African-American classical pianist, Don Shirley, as he goes on a tour of venues through the 1960s American South. 

Green Book found itself mired in debates over its portrayal of race relations and historical accuracy. Despite the film’s success and accolades, it faced sharp rebuke from some quarters, with critics accusing it of oversimplifying complex racial dynamics and perpetuating the white saviour trope. However, Mortensen, who portrayed the “dumbass white” character, Tony Vallelonga, has been steadfast in his defence of the film, dismissing its detractors as misinformed and misleading.

“Much of the criticism that was levelled at that movie was not only unreasonable, but it was inaccurate, mendacious, and irresponsible,” Mortensen asserted in an interview with the Independent. “It’s based on a load of bullshit”

In another interview with The Film Stage, he doubled down on his defence, highlighting the transformative journey of his character and the genuine friendship depicted in the film. “The dumbass in that story was the white guy,” Mortensen remarked candidly. “There was a steep learning curve for the character I played. But they both learned from each other. And the fact is, it was based on real events.”

Nonetheless, Green Book remains a divisive entry, as it is emblematic of the ongoing debate surrounding race, representation, and storytelling in film. But you can still enjoy the film for what it is or at least check it out in the run-up to this year’s Oscars.

You can watch Green Book on Netflix and catch the trailer here: