SYNOPSIS: Allison is a young woman with a wonderful fiance, a blossoming career, and supportive family and friends. However, her world crumbles in the blink of an eye when she survives an unimaginable tragedy, emerging from recovery with an opioid addiction and unresolved grief. In the following years, she forms an unlikely friendship with her would-be father-in-law that gives her a fighting chance to put her life back together and move forward.
Every decade or so, Zach Braff would write and direct his own movies liked the much acclaimed Garden State (2004) and the forgettable Wish I Was Here (2014). And now he is back with A Good Person except he is not in front of the camera at all as compared to his other feature films directorial efforts.
Roping in his ex-girlfriend, Florence Pugh and Oscar winner and famed narrator Morgan Freeman in the leading roles, A Good Person is a solid drama about grief, guilt and “amor fati”.
The drama starts with the rousing engagement party of Allison (Pugh) and Nathan (Chinaza Uche). We can tell the two of them are very much in love but good things don’t last long especially on screen. The next day, Allison together with Nathan’s sister and her husband are involved in an accident which claimed the lives of the couple.
A year later, Allison is back living with her mother (Molly Shannon) and addicted to painkillers. Elsewhere, Daniel (Freeman) is finding it hard to raise his orphaned rebellious teen granddaughter, Ryan (Celeste O’ Connor). It turns out that Daniel is supposed to be Allison’s father-in-law until the fatal accident changes everything. Both parties attempt to reconcile their differences at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting as they reopened old wounds and undergoes their pain and healing process.
No doubt about it, A Good Person is a slow burn. It can be a little heavy-handed at times which resulted in one or two unnecessarily uncomfortable situations. Yet this small misstep never take away the heart and soul of the movie. Braff has done a fantastic job building his narrative and characters, making them as believable as possible to the audiences.
Pugh delivers yet another mesmerising performance as the tortured Allison who left her beloved Nathan presumably out of guilt. Watching Pugh’s character trying to crawl out of the darkness is both painful and harrowing and the actress nails it without being overly dramatic.
Freeman’s Daniel has his own demons to fight against. As a long-time recovered alcoholic, he has to face his past abusive acts towards his son. And now he has to raise a teenager who has trouble behaving in school and outside school. It has been a long while since we saw Freeman in a role as weighty as Daniel and true enough, he gave his very best.
While the subject matter is definitely not on the creative side, the drama soars when it comes to the terrific performances of Pugh and Freeman and their onscreen relationship and chemistry. It’s such a sincere and emotional drama that Braff should have been a little more prolific over the years.
Review by Linus Tee