Directed by Peter Farrelly
Written by Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardinelli
The working-class Tony (Mortensen) finds himself in the company of an African-American piano prodigy (Ali) when he takes a job as his driver.
This film is based on the true story of the relationship between Don Shirley and Tony Vallelonga. The script was written by Nick Vallelonga (I Am Wrath), Brian Hayes Currie (Two Tickets to Paradise), and Peter Farrelly (Dumb and Dumber). Farrelly also directed the film. This one stars Mahershala Ali (Moonlight), Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic), and Linda Cardinelli (Avengers: Age of Ultron).
There are periods of American history that have been romanticized over time. There are aspects of life in that era that have been forgotten, perhaps intentionally. This film focuses on some of those aspects, in an era that was far from romantic for many people. The story is nicely written, creating a pair of people who could not be any more different. Their unlikely relationship blooms despite the harsh realities of the world they live in. The story does a good job of avoiding a lot of the expected twists and turns that these kind of stories typically rely on.
Throughout much of the movie, it’s just these two unique and flawed men. The dialogue in these moments is wonderfully written, and brings out a lot of deep emotions. The film also has the right amount of comedy, and some lighter moments, that help the film to balance out. Overall, this is one of the better films of its kind. The little twists and turns keep things from feeling predictable, and the payoffs deliver on the emotional arc of the story.
Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen combine to create one of the best on-screen pairings in recent history. Their chemistry pushes this film from good to great. Ali does a wonderful job playing a character with a massive amount of internal conflict. This underlying turmoil lies just beneath the surface for much of the movie. Ali does a great job finding all the right moments to allow the vulnerability to come out. Mortensen plays a man who isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He does a good job of giving his outspoken character a lot of depth. These two actors do a wonderful job finding the right balance in their time together. The two seem to be in sync, making every moment pay off just like it should. The rest of the cast also does a great job in this one. Linda Cardinelli adds a wonderful performance that helps to accentuate one of the better sub-plots in the film.
The sets, locations, and costuming all do a great job crafting a believable version of the era. The camera work is solid, and the sound work also does all the right things. There isn’t anything new happening with this production, but it’s all nicely done.
This is a wonderful movie that tells a fascinating story. If you’re a fan of biographic films or historical drama, this is one to see. I would also suggest this to fans of the stars. Their performances are incredible. This isn’t a lighthearted film. There are a lot of tough moments dealing with the struggles of the characters, as well as the social injustices of the era. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.