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Review: A Good Person (2023)

A Good Person (2023)

Directed by: Zach Braff

Premise: A woman (Florence Pugh) is involved in a car collision that kills her fiancé’s sister. A year later she is addicted to pain killers and meets her fiancé’s father (Morgan Freeman) at a recovery meeting.

What Works: A Good Person is a story of grief and recovery. A prologue sequence sets up the relationship between Allison and her fiancé Nathan (Chinaza Uche) and her friendship with Nathan’s sister and brother-in-law whose lives were cut short by a tragic automobile accident in which Allison was the driver. In just a handful of scenes the filmmakers effectively establish loving relationships that create a sense of loss that runs throughout the rest of the picture. The prologue is also important because it frames Allison’s drug use. A Good Person is an addiction narrative and the drug use is not an end in itself; it is directly tied to Allison’s sense of guilt. That theme runs throughout the movie. Daniel, the father of Allison’s former fiancé, is a recovering alcoholic who was abusive toward his children and Allison’s mother (Molly Shannon) drinks a lot of wine as a way of coping with her divorce. A Good Person’s portrait of addiction is complicated; recovery is not a straight line and the movie possesses compassion for its characters. The picture demonstrates an awareness of the way these people are haunted by trauma while also acknowledging each person’s responsibility for their own lives. A Good Person has an extraordinary performance by Florence Pugh as Allison. The character tumbles down the spiral of addiction and Pugh conveys that sense of desperation and hopelessness while also retaining the character’s sense of humor. Celeste O’Connor is also notable as Ryan, the teenage daughter of the couple killed in the car accident. Ryan comes across as a genuine teenager and she is allowed to be a complicated character.

What Doesn’t: Morgan Freeman is cast as Daniel and of course Freeman is called upon to do narration. The voiceover bookends the movie but A Good Person doesn’t need it. Freeman’s narration comes across out of sync with the tone of this film and the voiceover doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. The picture also suffers from being a little too conciliatory. Given the extraordinary ways in which Allison has repeatedly hurt Daniel and his family, their reconciliations are a little too easy.

Bottom Line: A Good Person is a well-produced addiction story with an exceptional performance by Florence Pugh. The movie is, at least in parts, emotionally intense while possessing an agreeable humanity that makes it uplifting but in a credible and grounded way. 

Episode: #944 (April 16, 2023)