Josh Reviews A Good Person
In A Good Person, Florence Pugh (Outlaw King, Black Widow, Don’t Worry Darling, Oppenheimer) stars as Allison, a young woman whose happy life is destroyed when she’s involved in a car accident that kills both of the passengers in the car she was driving. The film follows two parallel stories; Allison’s descent into addiction and her attempt to claw her way out of that hole, and the story of Daniel, played by Morgan Freeman, who lost his daughter in that accident. Daniel is an ex-cop and an alcoholic, whose addiction damaged, perhaps forever, his relationship with his son. He’s struggling in his new role as parent to the 16-year-old daughter, Ryan, of his dead daughter. Daniel and Allison meet when they both find themselves at the same AA group, and they form a connection neither of them ever expected.
A Good Person is the latest film written, directed, and produced by Zach Braff. I enjoyed Mr. Braff’s films Garden State and Wish I Was Here, and so I was interested in this new film. As with those films, the film wears its heart on its sleeve, telling a story about people deeply damaged by trauma who are trying to put their lives back together. It’s wrenching at times, and also sweet and moving,
The film is anchored by two knockout performances by its leads, Ms. Pugh and Mr. Freeman. It’s been a delight watching Ms. Pugh kill in movie after movie these past several years, and she was again impressive here. Allison is on an emotional knife’s edge for most of the film, shattered by her trauma and barely keeping herself together. Ms. Pugh feels effortless in what must have been an emotionally trying experience of embodying this deep pain. She feels so honest and real in every scene, and in particular there are several monologue moments that are absolutely incredible.
Morgan Freeman has been a master of the cinema for decades. It’s great to see him given a role with as much depth as he has here. Daniel’s life feels more together on the surface than Allison’s, but he’s got plenty of demons in his closet. It’s fun to see Mr. Freeman (who has such nobility and dignity) playing someone this messed up. And when he gets angry — wow, that incredible voice clicks in and he’s scary. It’s a thrill to see.
Celeste O’Connor (who was great in Ghostbusters: Afterlife) is terrific here as Ryan, a rebellious teenager who is just as damaged as the adults in her orbit and who is trying, in her own way, to figure out her life. Molly Shannon is wonderful as Diane, Allison’s sweet but sort of messed up (and maybe alcoholic?) mom. Chinaza Uche brings a lot of life and personality to the character of Nathan, Allison’s ex-fiancee.
The film is terrific when it allows its characters to bounce off of one another. Zach Braff’s writing is sharp, and these actors are terrific. I could have done without a few of the more outlandish plot developments, such as the bonkers climactic sequence at a New York City party in which it turns out that both Allison and Daniel fall off the wagon. Frankly, I must admit that the whole set-up of the movie — that Allison and Daniel would wind up at the same AA meeting, and that they’d continue to interact with one another after that — is a bit hard to believe, but I can roll with that coincidence (and its ripple effects) as the basis for this story.
This is a serious, emotional film. There’s not much comedy to be found (in contrast to Mr. Braff’s earlier films). But it’s sweet and endearing, and I enjoyed it.
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