A Good Person Review

As a filmgoer, we go to the movies to escape reality. We go to see stories that take us away from our worlds and entertain us for a few hours. The stories, while sometimes extraordinary, make us feel better when we walk out as opposed to when we walked in. While we do go to movies to escape reality, there are times when we go to a movie to see stories that absolutely take us through the wringer. A Good Person by Zach Braff is a movie that takes you to a dark place dealing with addiction, loss, and trying to come back from that darkness.

Let me start by saying that A Good Person starts off in a happy place. We are witnessing the beginning of a new life together at Allison (Florence Pugh) and Nathan’s (Chinaza Uche) engagement party. Everyone is sitting and listening to Allison play the piano and singing a song she sang on their first date. The atmosphere is one of joy and excitement as the wedding day festivities are around the corner. Where the story takes a turn is the following day. On the way to try on wedding dresses, Allison and her soon-to-be sister and brother-in-law are in a car accident. The story then fast-forwards to a year later.

Courtesy of MGM

We see the shell of what Allision has become. Due to her injuries from the car accident, she was prescribed oxycontin and has become addicted to them. Pugh perfectly portrays a woman that is struggling to stay afloat but feels the need to get that extra hit to survive one more day. By her side and trying to help her is her mother Diane, played magnificently by Molly Shannon. Diane is doing her best to take care of her daughter but also trying to help her be her own person. Allison does not work and spends her days riding her bike or watching television while thinking about scoring her next high.

There are scenes in this movie that we have seen before in other movies about addiction. We see the addict try to lie to the pharmacist to get a prescription refilled. We see them get together with old friends to try to have them get them the drugs they need and we also see them hit rock-bottom. There is a scene in A Good Person that is so visceral that it is almost scary to watch. Allison goes to a local bar and runs into a few guys from her high school days. They remember how she was not nice to them in high school and how she wants them to help her score a hit. Although this scene feels that it may go in one direction, Mark, played scarily by Alex Wolf, takes it to a dark place.

Slowly Allison realizes that she needs to defeat this addiction and goes to an addicts meeting at the local church where Nathan’s father, Daniel, played amazingly by Morgan Freeman, also attends. Given their relationship, Allison feels that she should not be going there but Daniel thinks that it is fate that brought them together after their tragic past. Again, this movie takes us to places that are hard to watch and the diner scene between them hurts by being so grounded. They are trying to connect and Allison lets it all out. She talks about the struggle to move on and just wanting to end it at the same time. This scene is relatable to any one that is struggling through life. Anyone dealing with addiction or depression has probably felt the same way that Allison has.

Courtesy of MGM

Freeman’s character, Daniel, also has his demons that he has faced and is trying to keep at bay. Raising his teenage granddaughter, Ryan, played by Celeste O’Connor, is not the easiest thing for Daniel and the interactions between the two are humorous and relateable for parents with teens. This relationship alone takes us on a journey of healing and understanding when the granddaughter meets Allison. Knowing who Allison is makes Ryan resent her but also wants to know who she is. This relationship is another one that helps define the title of the movie.

Zach Braff stated he wrote this movie while dating Florence Pugh and after losing some people close to him. By being with Pugh he was able to write to her voice and her strength and felt many people could relate to her character. In going through the struggles of Allison, Daniel, and Ryan we see that the term “a good person” is not easy to define. While Allison looks like a good person on the outside, inside she was dealing with demons with her addiction. The same can be said for Daniel. Daniel has a past that has splintered his relationship with his son. He is doing all he can to atone for that life by raising his granddaughter but as mentioned before that is not going as well for him.

What defines a good person may not be answered in this movie but we get a good insight as to what constitutes one. A Good Person is a film that needs to be seen due to the transcendent performances of Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman. Florence takes you to the dark side of addiction and Freeman takes you by the hand out of that darkness. Zach Braff gives us a great story that not only breaks our hearts but also shows us how we can be healed.

As with most Zach Braff movies, the soundtrack is amazing. At a recent advance screening, I was able to ask Braff about how he chooses the songs for his movies and he stated that while he has a playlist of songs he would like to use sometimes the songs don’t fit the scene. He continued that when in the editing room there are moments when he is playing a song and the hair on his arms stands up. This is when he knows the song works for the scene.

Final Thoughts: A Good Person is one of those movies that is hard to watch but must be watched. Seeing the highs and lows of Allison’s life is an experience that must be watched. Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman are magical together and give stunning performances.

Kid-Friendly: The film deals with issues of substance abuse, death, and healing. The way some of these topics are explored in the movie might be a little intense for younger viewers but parents should be able to know what their kids can handle. There is a party scene where drugs and alcohol are being taken and Allison buys oxycontin. There are two scenes involving sexual situations that are stopped before they are started.

Violence: There are scenes of drug and alcohol abuse and an intense scene where a gun is involved.

Daniel (Morgan Freeman) is brought together with Allison (Florence Pugh), the once-thriving young woman with a bright future who was involved in an unimaginable tragedy that took his daughter’s life. As grief-stricken Daniel navigates raising his teenage granddaughter and Allison seeks redemption, they discover that friendship, forgiveness, and hope can flourish in unlikely places.

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