A Good Person is written and directed by Zach Braff. It stars Florence Pugh, Morgan Freeman, Molly Shannon, Chinaza Uche and Celeste O’Connor. The film follows Allison (Pugh), who is in the midst of getting married and living her best life when one day a fatal vehicle accident changes her life entirely. Daniel (Freeman) is suddenly fully responsible for raising his granddaughter all while dealing with his own grief and demons.
Pugh is currently one of my favorite actresses. Her body of work across the spectrum of genres, performances, and most impressively her array of characters is just a testament to her versatility as an actor. One of the most promising up-and-comers collaborating with a legend such as Morgan Freeman was sufficient enough to intrigue me to see what they’d both do on screen.
As a former opioid addict, this film struck a chord within me, and I was profoundly moved by Pugh’s performance. The depiction is accurate and brought back memories as I watched her character go down the addiction route in wake of a traumatic event.
For Allison, it was a vehicle accident that physically injured her. After taking painkillers for several months, she becomes addicted and goes through any means to obtain more. The desperation intensifies when her doctor refuses to prescribe more pills.
For me, it was my mother’s death that started it all. I had a dental procedure and was prescribed painkillers to help alleviate the discomfort. The numbness (physically and emotionally) became instantly addictive, and before I knew it, I’d find myself requesting refills until the doctors noticed a pattern and refused my requests.
My desperation grew to the extent that I would purposely injure myself to get painkillers. I knew this couldn’t continue so I stopped cold turkey. The weeks that followed were the worst I’ve ever lived through, but they were some of the most reflective and thoughtful. Pugh presents this transition period with such conviction that I was overwhelmed, and in a way reliving that period of my life.
The story is a compelling and thoughtful exploration of pain (physically and emotionally), using addiction as a coping mechanism as well as growth and redemption. I wholeheartedly appreciate the showcase of characters with various shades of gray. They’re imperfect individuals with the capacity to make mistakes, acknowledge their mistakes but make them again. Characters who are relatable and the closest embodiment of a human being.
The pieces and the intention are there, but the script and editing are its weakest link. The dialogue could have been stronger. The editing took away from some emotionally heavy moments. Some shots were a bit disjointed or disconnected, which reduced their impact. Some scenes and sequences are excellent, moving and memorable, but the film doesn’t keep this quality throughout, making its two-hour runtime felt during the second half of the movie.
The ending worked for me though, and I cried. It brought back so many memories while making me contemplate every single decision I’ve made. This film felt like a mirror to a dark time in my life, but I’ve been clean for seven years now, and I’ve come a long way (making the ending impactful).
Overall, A Good Person is a sincere depiction of grief, addiction, forgiveness, accountability, pain and redemption anchored by two strong and moving performances. The title left me contemplating who fits under the label of “good” while also wondering what it truly means to be a good person.