A Good Person
Stars: Morgan Freeman, Florence Pugh, Molly Shannon, Celeste O’Connor, Zoe Lister-Jones, Chinaza Liche and Alex Wolff
Director/Scriptwriter: Zach Braff
Composer: Bryce Dessner
Cinematography: Mauro Fiore
Rating: R for violence and themed material
Running Length: 125 Minutes
Actor/Director/Writer Zach Braff has seen much tragedy in his life from losing relatives to a close friend. He has taken this material and written a script about an auto accident and the after effects of people involved as the years go by. Guilt is a trip all its own. It can become faint as time goes by, or fester in the mind. “A Good Person” is just what some people try to be after meeting guilt. Florence Pugh (Allison), once a girlfriend of director Braff, is the star of this film, and she shares top billing with Morgan Freeman (Daniel). They are the main characters being on opposite sides of tragedy. Pain can be physical pain or it can be mental anguish-pain. In the case of Allison, it is current, while in the case of Daniel, it is past mental anguish. See what happens when the two individuals meet.
There is a car accident in the beginning of the film and we see that is it caused by Allison (Pugh) and careless driving. Two passengers are killed. They happen to be her fiancé’s sister and the sister’s husband. Allison’s fiancé, Nathan (Chinaza Liche) is heartbroken. Allison is injured and recovers, but is now, a year later, dependent on drugs to keep her going. Both physical and mental pain, she becomes an expert in getting drugs for herself, still saying she did not cause the accident. The result, after a year, is that Nathan is not the support, his niece, Ryan (Celeste O’Connor) is now staying with Nathan’s father, Daniel (Morgan Freeman.) Allison is with her mother (Molly Shannon.) So…where do we go from here? Allison is in a pool of guilt all her own, Daniel is recovering from alcoholism and trying to cope with a teen-age girl who is discovering sex. He doesn’t know what to do, except gradually have some sympathy for Allison, as he has been down that road---and won. Daniel was an abusive parent in his drunken years. Some scenes are rough to watch.
“A Good Person” is what Allison strives to be, though she doesn’t know her own pathway yet. As played by Florence Pugh (who takes center stage in her scenes), Allison is sliding downhill fast and if someone doesn’t help her, she is gone for good. Morgan Freeman has been down the path and pulled himself up. When the two actors are together in a scene, it is an acting lesson, which is what the audience comes away with. A dramatic film of credible acting, and the rest of the cast is just there, especially Molly Shannon. The third person to watch in future films is Celeste O’Connor as Ryan, who plays the teenager as empty inside from losing her parents, and not knowing which direction to go. A lite-altering experience for sure, go with Dad who doesn’t understand or stay with Grandpa who is beginning to understand.
What appealed to me were the scenes between Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman. They seemed natural and at ease even though this is dramatic material and the gradually chipping away of one’s defenses to allow truth to enter. All of this comes out in stages and we see a picture of guilt with a capital “G”, not accepting responsibility for one’s actions, and a constant reminder to keep your eyes on the road.
Copyright 2023 Marie Asner