A GOOD PERSON Mines Family Trauma

Zach Braff is one of those talents that always seemed to escape my radar. I never tuned into Scrubs, I missed the acclaim that met his 2004 directorial debut Garden State and the controversy that savaged his 2014 crowd-funded box office bomb Wish I Was Here. In fact, the only time I can recall seeing him on screen was in the 2006 romcom misfire The Ex which was mostly notable for Charles Grodin’s return to the screen after a 13 year absence. Braff doesn’t feature in his latest theatrical feature as director, but his screen persona would likely distract from the tender human drama of A Good Person.

Twenty-somethings Alison (Florence Pugh) and Nathan (Chinaza Uche) are deeply in love and months away from tying the knot. But the nuptials are derailed when an auto collision with Allison at the wheel leaves her future brother and sister-in-law dead. One year later, the engagement is off and Allison is now hopelessly addicted to painkillers. Seeking help at an AA meeting, she runs into the last person on earth she expected or wanted to find: Nathan’s father Daniel (Morgan Freeman), who is struggling with recurrent alcoholism as he tries to parent his now-orphaned and rebellious granddaughter Ryan (Celeste O’Conner).

An unlikely (or likely if you’ve seen this kind of movie before) bond forms between these two broken souls as they both attempt to mine through the fallout of a tragic accident. As they both continue to attend AA meetings led by almost-surrogate mother Simone (Zoe Lister-Jones), Allison struggles to come to terms with the responsibility she bears for the accident while Daniel sees Ryan as a new chance to be the type of parent he never was to his own children. Speaking of which, Ryan forms what could potentially be an unhealthy attachment to Allison which could threaten the healing of all parties.

A Good Person is the type of film buoyed by the strength of its cast with Pugh delivering a powerhouse performance as the shattered Allison (I predict an Oscar for her before the decade is through) and Freeman doing much to break free from his stock wise sage image as the gruff-yet-gregarious Daniel. O’Conner and a scene-stealing Alex Wolff provide capable support with the only real weak link being Molly Shannon who seems to have wandered from an SNL skit on her way to playing Allison’s hapless wine-swilling mother.

Braff directs the proceedings well, ingratiating us with the plight of his contrasting protagonists and giving their grief and trials room to breathe. While the first act could use a modicum of tightening, the final film ties together nicely with only a couple of oddly-rendered moments (ie; some flashbacks to the crash) disturbing the flow.

A Good Person is the type of film that columnists keep predicting will be banished from the theatres in favour of superhero blockbuster #763 taking up 4 out of 5 screens. But as long as moviegoers value a balanced diet at the cineplex, fare like A Good Person capably serves as well-seasoned vegetables.  




A Good Person is now playing in theatres

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *