In “A Good Person,” writer-director Zach Braff masterfully addresses various challenging themes, including grief, loss, trauma, and the opioid crisis. This film stands as his most impressive and well-rounded work to date. The movie’s success is partly due to the exceptional performances of its two leading actors, Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman. They skillfully bring to life the emotional depth of Braff’s screenplay while he ensures a relatable and grounded reality.
Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman: A Powerful Duo
Florence Pugh portrays Allison, a young woman preparing to marry her fiancé, Nathan (Chinaza Uche). Tragically, a car accident kills her soon-to-be in-laws, leaving Allison with the physical and emotional aftermath. The narrative resumes a year later, with Allison staying with her mother and struggling with an addiction to Vicodin.
As Allison’s addiction spirals out of control, she seeks help from unsavory acquaintances. Her situation turns out when she attends an AA meeting and encounters Daniel (Morgan Freeman), Nathan’s estranged father. Unfortunately, Daniel’s life has also been upended by accident, as he now cares for his 16-year-old granddaughter, Ryan (Celeste O’Connor). Despite their shared pain, Daniel encourages Allison to stay at the meeting, and the two forms an unexpected bond as they navigate their grief and search for a new path forward.
Balancing Emotion and Realism
“A Good Person” could have easily succumbed to excessive sentimentality, but Braff manages to avoid this pitfall. Unlike his previous films, “Garden State” and “Wish I Was Here,” which suffered from self-conscious introspection and missteps, Braff demonstrates a more mature approach in this work. He portrays his characters honestly, allowing them to be complex and flawed without offering easy solutions. In addition, the film’s setting in New Jersey adds a layer of authenticity, with relatable details and realistic scenes, thanks to production designer Merissa Lombardo.
Both Pugh and Freeman deliver outstanding performances in their respective roles. Pugh’s portrayal of Allison is raw and genuine, while Freeman takes on his most significant role in years as Daniel. The 85-year-old actor could easily have played a warm, grandfatherly figure, but he opts for a more nuanced portrayal of a man grappling with his imperfections.
A Few Missteps, But a Solid Film
Although “A Good Person” occasionally veers into sentimentality and includes a few overwrought scenes, the film remains grounded in relatable experiences and tells a compelling human story. Ultimately, it’s a touching and emotionally resonant film that showcases the growth of Zach Braff as a filmmaker and the undeniable talent of its leading actors.