As I left the screening, “Wow!” repeatedly played in my head. I had to tell the studio representative more than wow, so by the time I spoke to her, after “Wow!” I told her that I couldn’t believe this was written and directed by Zach Braff. Don’t get me wrong, that’s nothing against him, but he’s my hysterical J.D. from “Scrubs!” I know he’s so much more, but this was, too.
And I shouldn’t be so surprised. When you look at the work Braff’s done over the years, especially recently, he isn’t a one-genre man. He can be profound and with “A Good Person,” he goes deep. This movie is exceptionally well written, well produced, touching, and poignant, and the directing is simply extraordinary. I can’t recommend enough that you see it the moment it hits a theater near you.
Braff had a relationship in the past with his star Florence Pugh (Don’t Worry Darling, Midsommar), who plays the lead, Allison, a fascinating character. The arc in this story is watching ‘Allie’ go from the enchanting, loving fiancé to the broken mess who can’t forgive herself for making a mistake that ruined not only her life but the lives of everyone she cared about. Braff not only knew what she was capable of but wanted the audience to know that as well. And now we do.
When we first see her, she’s with her Nathan, played by Chinaza Uche, (Little America), the man she’s about to marry. They’re a sweet couple and the scene used to introduce the characters is affectionate and warm. Through a voice-over by Morgan Freeman, who plays Nathan’s father, Daniel, he tells us that nothing in life is ever neat and tidy. A few minutes later, we see why that’s said.
Early in the film, we learn that Allie was driving the car that killed Nathan’s sister and his brother-in-law. Diane (Molly Shannon) is Allie’s supportive mother, who takes care of her as she heals but has trouble dealing with her daughter, who begins to demand more than she can give. Allie wants more Oxycontin to deal with her pain. Mom wants to do what’s right.
Allie isn’t getting past that, at her hand, she not only lost friends but lost Nathan, too. Using drugs and getting drunk is her only escape from the dark places she goes when sober. Allie and her mother have an intense fight over the issue, Braff making it seem so real you feel a part of the family, wanting to jump in and help. Allie finally realizes she should listen and try to help herself. She goes to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. When she does, the session happens to be where Daniel is, as well. The dialogue in the scenes between the two are marvelous. Morgan Freeman is astonishing as a gentleman willing to help heal the woman who killed his child, to a man who dives deep into letting the daughter-in-law he almost had that she’ll never be able to fix the terrible things she has done to him. He screams directly at her how much he now questions God, and she stands and takes it.
The title implies that Allie is still “A Good Person.” Can she put her life back together; move beyond her grief… and theirs? Will she be forgiven by Daniel and the granddaughter, Ryan (Celeste O’Connor), he’s now raising? O’Connor is fabulous, but there are a few scenes with Ryan that don’t seem to fit. Her affections move too quickly… don’t seem authentic. Overall, Braff has made a significant and impressive film about addiction and absolution. This is a must-see.
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In Select Theaters March 24, 2023
Everywhere March 31st
A Good Person
Written and Directed by: Zach Braff
Starring: Florence Pugh, Molly Shannon, Chinaza Uche, Celeste O’Connor, and Morgan Freeman
Produced by: Zach Braff, Pamela Koffler, Florence Pugh, Christine Vachon, Christina Piovesan, Noah Segal
Executive Producer: Beverly Rogers
Rated: Rated R for drug abuse, language throughout and some sexual references
Run Time: 2h 9m
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