The director of Oscar-winning Green Book, Peter Farrelly, has defended the film as having a “hopeful message” amid criticism of its handling of race.

Within minutes of it being named best picture at the 91st Academy Awards, critics online slammed the decision, with one branding it the worst film to scoop the prize since Crash in 2006.

Green Book has been dogged by controversy, with some claiming its exploration of racism falls within the Hollywood trope of the “white saviour”.

The film begins with Viggo Mortensen’s character as a racist, but ends with him being close friends with the jazz musician played by best supporting actor winner Mahershala Ali.

Farrelly defended Mortensen’s character as someone who was “flawed in the beginning” but who redeems himself through the film.

He said: “The message is talk to each other and we will find out we all have a lot in common. It’s a hopeful message.”

Farrelly added: “The only way to solve problems is to talk.”

The film also attracted criticism from the family of Don Shirley, the musician played by Ali.

They allege they were not consulted and that the film is not based on fact.

Nick Vallelonga is the son of Tony Lip, who is played by Mortensen, and wrote the film after speaking to both his father and Shirley.

He said he was not aware Shirley’s family was still alive and that the musician had asked him not to speak to anyone else before making the film.

Vallelonga added that he “kept my word to that man”.


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