If Zach Braff might have been as bold as to leave certain things astray, A Good Person might have been up there with some of the best of the year.
BY ALEX GILSTON APRIL 2, 2023
Zach Braff sits back in the directors chair for his deeply affecting drama A Good Person. A feature that tackles a lot of hard-hitting thematic notes with two grounding performances by Braff’s lead players Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman.
In the opening moments of A Good Person Daniel (Morgan Freeman) is tending to his model railway; and pondering how his omnipotence over every last detail means the things he wants to happen will. His words travel to how life is the opposite; uncontrollable and rarely so neat and tidy. This thought is posed and challenged throughout A Good Person as the trials and tribulations of life pass by him and Allison (Florence Pugh).
Allison has a great job and is set to marry her fiancé Nathan (Chinaza Uche) until she is involved in a fatal accident that changes her life. A year on from the incident Allison is struggling to come to terms with what has happened, having developed an addiction to OxyContin. After a few troubling experiences she decides to go to an AA meeting where she bumps into Daniel, who would have been her father-in-law prior to the accident . This forces her to confront the trauma that led to her addiction head-on.
A Good Person is thematically rich exploring addiction, depression, survivors guilt, and forgiveness through both Allison and Daniel sufficiently. It’s only when wider societal issues are brought to the forefront where the balance starts to shift away. Braff tries to fit in commentary on the opioid crisis, veterans, growing up in a modern age, and even familial abuse. But unfortunately these are merely looked in on at surface level due to it bursting at the seams with ideas.
It comes as no surprise that Florence Pugh delivers a sublime performance as Allison. Pugh has had such a short but eclectic career so far, and this role will hit the top shelf with the rest of her impeccable work. Morgan Freeman is also at his level best opposite Pugh. There’s a bitterness to Daniel because of what he’s been through, but there’s a kindness underneath that only a personality like Freeman can portray. The supporting cast also fires on all cylinders. Celeste O’Connor carries a hefty weight on her shoulders as Ryan.
A Good Person concludes with those same musings Daniel presents at the beginning. Over 120 minutes we’ve witnessed the unpredictable nature of life and the resilience needed to get through the most horrible circumstances. Daniel’s point on life being “rarely neat and tidy” is incredibly resonant which makes it all the more disappointing that A Good Person’s ending is about as neat and tidy as you can conclude a film plot. If Zach Braff might have been as bold as to leave certain things astray, A Good Person might have been up there with some of the best of the year.