New York, 1962, a true story: Tony “Lip” Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen) needs a job, so he agrees to drive classical pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali), who is black, around the deep South on a six-week performance tour. It’s a bit Driving Miss Daisy in reverse, but also a bit Planes, Trains and Automobiles, with humor that is warm, sympathetic and humane. And yes, it’s also yet another tale of American racism told primarily through the eyes of a white person discovering just how terrible racism can be. What snatches the film from condescending awfulness is the wit, charm and complexity with which both Don and Tony are drawn, and the absolutely gorgeous performances by its stars. Mortensen is all big, expansive movement and even bigger brashness; Ali is all tiny, precise actions and deep emotional reserve. Tony is gusto; Don is elegance. They are a true odd couple, and the common ground they find over the course of their trip is as much about personality as it is about race. It may be a familiar tune, but it’s played with virtuoso style.
Director: Peter Farrelly
Producer: Jim Burke, Charles Wessler, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, Jeff Skoll, Jonathan King, Octavia Spencer, Kwame Parker, John Sloss and Steven Farneth
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Maniscalco, Dimiter Marinov, Mike Hatton, P.J. Byrne, Joe Cortese, Maggie Nixon, Von Lewis, Jon Sortland, Don Stark, Anthony Mangano, Paul Sloan, Quinn Duffy, Seth Hurwitz, Hudson Galloway and Gavin Foley