Florence Pugh is the main reason to watch A Good Person
A movie about addiction, guilt and forgiveness, writer/director Zach Braff’s well intentioned but predictable drama A Good Person is saved by another stunning screen performance from Florence Pugh.
She is Allison, a fun, likeable woman (we know this because she sings and plays piano at her own engagement party and no one seems to think it’s self-indulgent) whose life is forever changed following a car accident that kills her fiancé Nathan’s sister and husband.
A year later, Nathan and Allison are no longer together, and Allison has become addicted to the OxyContin painkillers she was prescribed after the accident. She lives with her mother (Molly Shannon), has no job and no future until she walks into an addicts anonymous meeting and comes face to face with Nathan’s father, Daniel (Morgan Freeman), who is dealing with grief and ghosts of his own.
Their unlikely, awkward and hesitant friendship is the heart of the movie, and some of the best scenes feature Pugh and Freeman together. But the actress is also a powerhouse in the scenes where she is alone, as Allison reaches rock bottom more than once.
Of course, numerous movies have tackled the subject of addiction and recovery, from Bright Lights Big City, Requiem For A Dream and 28 Days to Cake (a little-seen but worth-seeking-out 2014 Jennifer Aniston movie) and you could argue that they each did it better. Those movies certainly avoid some of the pitfalls Braff walks right into, such as a twee recovery montage (oh, Allison’s playing the piano again! She’s cured!) and the unnecessary addition of Daniel’s horrendous teenage granddaughter Ryan to the proceedings.
But while Braff gets those elements wrong – especially Ryan, who is such a bundle of teen stereotypes you don’t feel sorry for her even though the car crash left her an orphan – and fumbles the pacing with a lengthy prologue that doesn’t introduce characters or relationships clearly, he does get two things right.
First, there are the believable addiction scenes – Allison’s growing dependence on prescription pills is, like the superb TV series Dopesick, both a convincing and a damning indictment of the opioid epidemic that is spiralling in America today.
And second, of course, is the casting of Pugh. The star of Midsommar and Don’t Worry Darling (the latter another movie where she was the best reason to seek it out) is on form in every scene of A Good Person, and her heartfelt portrayal of the hurt, angry and lost Allison seeking redemption is definitely reason enough to give this uneven movie a chance.
A Good Person is available to watch on Sky Cinema.
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