Florence Pugh delivers one of the best performances of her career as Zach Braff’s A Good Person will leave audiences with all the feelings.
A Good Person is not an easy film to watch. It deals with injuries, grief, and the trauma that comes with both of them. You can make the argument that there’s something of a happy ending but this two-hour-plus film does not have an easy path in reaching the point. But still, Zach Braff has written one of those screenplays that knows how to make audiences feel something. It’s certainly not the first time because Braff has been doing this since making the transition to feature filmmaker. But anyway, it’s actors like rising star Florence Pugh and screen legend Morgan Freeman bringing life to the script and driving home the emotional punch in watching the film.
I regret that I had to go straight into another screening because this is one of those films where you need to sit down and catch your breath after the credits roll. Again, I mean this in a good way because my eyes were watering well into the film’s third act. That’s something that wouldn’t happen without Braff or the actors. Maybe it’s the depression that I’ve been battling because of a mixture of antisemitism and transphobia in March but I digress. I needed to sit with my feelings before writing this review.
Allison (Florence Pugh) has it all–future husband Nathan (Chinaza Uche), a career, family, and friends–but her life changes within the span of a few seconds. When the film flashforwards following her stay in the hospital, she’s taken something of a downhill turn. She’s no longer the person she used to be. Allison has become an opioid addict although her mother, Diane (Molly Shannon), tries to make her quit cold turkey. If you’ve seen any film about addicts, you know that people cannot just quit cold turkey.
When Allison finally decides to make the next step in recovery and seek help, she ends up befriending Daniel (Morgan Freeman). In a perfect world, the police officer and recovering alcoholic would have became her father-in-law. Allison starts to leave but even after everything she did, Daniel still gives her a chance. I would wager that not many people would be willing to do this. Because of the car accident, Daniel’s granddaughter Ryan (Celeste O’Connor), is struggling in school and sports. He sees an opportunity to invite Allison into their home, much to his granddaughter’s dismay. While she struggles at first with this, the two eventually reach a path that ends with healing. Again, this film has all the feelings.
Because of Allison turning to opioids after her injury, I could not help but think about Dopesick on Hulu. In many ways, this film is complementary viewing because it shines a light on the opioids epidemic. It shows how far down people go before they climb up from rock bottom. That is, if they’re able to make the climb at all. Allison has a circle of family and friends that want her to get better but she needs to make the choice for herself. When one sees what happens, it’s understanding why she is in the situation that she’s in. Breaking up with one’s fiancé after accidentally killing his sister and brother-in-law in a car crash will only make matters worse. Allison knows what happened and she must live with it every day.
Florence Pugh delivers a dynamite performance in the film. Not just this but the actress proves to be a triple threat by producing and writing original songs, too. The songs are supplemented by Bryce Dessner’s score in the film. If Pugh doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for her acting performance, a nomination for original song might be possible.
I went into this film knowing very little about it. As such, I was quite surprised to find Daniel being the one to befriend Allie. Here’s the woman who singlehandedly ruined his life because she was checking the map on her phone. And yet, here is is willing to forgive her. The same cannot be said for his granddaughter but it’s their addictions who bond them together on the path towards healing. Zach Braff writes from his own experiences when it comes to grief. The past few years haven’t been kind especially with the pandemic and it’s not easy to rebound afterwards. Despite this, Braff writes a script that shows it is possible to get back on one’s feet. That Braff does this while tackling the opioids epidemic is sure to resonate with people.
It’s been a tough few years but as A Good Person and Florence Pugh’s stellar performance reminds viewers in its own way, bouncing back may become challenging at times but it’s still possible to get back on one’s feet. But maybe we should leave haircuts to the professionals rather than listening to an influencer?
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Zach Braff
CAST: Florence Pugh, Molly Shannon, Chinaza Uche, Celeste O’Connor, and Morgan Freeman
MGM will release A Good Person in theaters on March 24, 2023. Grade: 4/5
Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.