For those of you that only think of Scrubs when Zach Braff’s name is mentioned, you may want to do a bit more digging. While his comedic chops are definitely sharp, his ability to write and direct material that resonates with audiences is just as strong if not more so. With films like Wish I Was Here and Garden State under his belt paired with directing efforts on things like those films and (more recently Ted Lasso and Shrinking), his behind-the-scenes work just seems to be getting more prolific.
In what could be his most daring project to date, A Good Person stars Florence Pugh as Allison, an aspiring singer-songwriter who is engaged to the love of her life in Nathan (Chinaza Uche). While on a trip with two of her in-laws, an accident leaves her carrying the weight of guilt that leads to an opioid addiction and the loss of her relationship. Cut to a year later as she is still dealing with her addiction as she lives with her mother, Diane (Molly Shannon), and as she finds herself at what she feels is rock bottom she attends a twelve-step program and runs into the man who would have been her father-in-law, Daniel (Morgan Freeman). He is spending his time raising his orphaned niece in Ryan (Celeste O’Connor from Ghostbusters: Afterlife), who is rebelling on multiple levels. As Allison’s demons struggle to keep a hold of her, the ramifications of her life choices all come to a head as she realizes she needs more than she ever realized.
What I really dig about A Good Person is how honest it is in its exploration of addiction and how it affects perception from a number of points of view. Whether it is Allison within herself, her mother that wants to help her and doesn’t know how, Daniel and how his path both crosses and parallels Alison’s, or Ryan and how she deals with all of it at a young age, the emotion is cranked up to eleven in a way that does not feel like cheap or forced. There were moments that I found myself closing my eyes because I felt so much for the characters on screen that it was almost too much for my heart in a very real way. Each character has its own arc and journey that builds both on their own and as part of the bigger picture that makes Allison’s that much more understandable while working on levels of empathy and anger at the same time.
Pugh is also nothing short of brilliant here in a role that is so well performed that the pre-accident and post-accident Allison fully come across as two different people down to even her appearance from the happy-go-lucky fashion plate to the devil-may-care level of disheveled that truly shows her decline and attempts at redemption. She truly sits toe-to-toe with Freeman in each and every scene they share while complimenting him in a way that he is on a short list of actors that can truly do. Zoe Lister-Jones is also a standout in the role of her sponsor that I wish could have been seen more, and hope Hollywood stands up and notices her more than they have. Uche’s Nathan is also strong portraying a man that seems to be caught in the middle, and even though he is truly not in the film as much as he seems to be he makes an impression that makes me hope he is on the big and small screen more as time goes on. Overall, this cast is solid in a script (also written by Braff) that demands a level of digging for them that had to have taken them to very dark and personal places.
MGM is distributing here, but I am not sure it is going to get the wide and celebrated release that I truly believe it deserves. A Good Person is one that needs to be checked out in any way, shape, or form that it can be, so be on the lookout for it when it is available!