It seems that Florence Pugh can do no wrong. A string of stellar performances in films such as Midsommar, Little Women, and The Wonder have established her as one of the finest actresses working today. Even a dud like Don’t Worry Darling was vastly improved by her presence. Pugh once again proves herself a force of nature with A Good Person, which comes to Blu-ray on May 30. The film is slightly flawed, but she carries it beautifully.
Pugh plays Allison, a young woman engaged to Nathan (Chinaza Uche). On her way into the city to look at wedding dresses, she fiddles with her cell phone while driving and crashes into a backhoe that’s doing road work. Nathan’s sister and her husband are killed as a result. A year later, the engagement is off and Allison is addicted to the Oxycontin prescribed to her for the injuries she sustained. Those injuries don’t hurt as much as the guilt she carries around, despite frequent protests that the accident wasn’t her fault. Mom Diane (Molly Shannon) pressures her to get clean, only to end up enabling her anyway.
Allison finally decides to attend a 12-step program meeting, where she runs into Nathan’s father Daniel (Morgan Freeman), a former cop struggling to maintain his sobriety after his daughter’s death. He’s caring for his orphaned granddaughter Ryan (Celeste O’Connor) and having a rough go of it. Daniel has every reason to hate Allison, yet he recognizes her struggle and encourages her to stay for the meeting. Thus begins a tentative relationship between the two – and, eventually, between Allison and Ryan – that will either lead to healing or more hurt, depending upon how the parties navigate the uncomfortable situation.
A Good Person was written and directed by Zach Braff. His films, which also include Garden State and Wish I Was Here, are not known for their subtlety. This one is no different. It’s a little heavy-handed at times, a little manipulative at others. There’s a badly misguided scene where Allison, Ryan, Daniel, and Nathan all converge at a party in New York that veers into preposterous, outright melodrama. I was willing to forgive the movie for those moments because Braff also delivers many insightful, poignant scenes about grief, guilt, and how hard it can be to forgive ourselves, even when other people have already forgiven us. Those parts outnumber and outweigh the ones that don’t work.
Much of that is due to the film’s lead. Pugh never hits a wrong note. Every emotion Allison goes through – and she goes through a lot of them – is 100% authentic. She makes you vicariously experience what the character endures internally. Because of her efforts, you come to care about Allison fully. Of course, Morgan Freeman is no slouch either. He too shows the many layers of the person he’s portraying, so it’s understandable how conflicting feelings arise within Daniel simultaneously. Watching the two leads interact on a deep level is compelling.
A Good Person wraps up its story a little too conveniently, making sure things are tied together for maximum heart-tugging meaning. Braff didn’t need to go that syrupy, since Pugh and Freeman say everything that needs to be said through their nuanced work. Regardless, what the stars do is potent, ensuring the journey Allison and Daniel go on makes a definite impact.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment brings A Good Person to Blu-ray on May 30. A complimentary copy was provided to The Aisle Seat for the purposes of this review.
Surprisingly, there are no bonus features on the disc, not even a theatrical trailer. A digital copy of the movie is included in the pack. Picture and sound quality are excellent.
out of four
A Good Person is rated R for drug abuse, language throughout, and some sexual references. The running time is 2 hours and 8 minutes.