If there's one thing the last few years of cinematic output has proven, it's that Florence Pugh is nothing if not reliable. Seemingly always working, the British actor has carved a niche for herself as the go to for characters who are experiencing significant emotional turmoil.
A Good Person is no exception to this. Directed by Zach Braff, also leaning fully into his own niche of uplifting stories centred around grief, this feels like a match made in heaven. Cult favourite Garden State is enough to have most movie fans interested in what Braff will do next, as he carves himself a solid reputation both away from and complimenting his years on Scrubs.
Allison (Florence Pugh) is driving into the city with her fiance's sister, Molly (Nichelle Hines) and brother in law, Jesse (Toby Onwumere), she checks her phone just at the moment a construction vehicle backs into the highway. The inevitable accident is fatal to her two passengers and leaves her with a head injury that she treats with opioid painkillers.
A year later, she has separated from her fiance Nathan (Chinaza Uche), and her reliance on those painkillers has turned to a dependence. She lives with her mother, Diane (Molly Shannon) who has her own issues and doesn't have any idea how to help. Allison's constant allusion to the accident not being her fault confounds her issues, locking her in a cycle where she can't move on from that one day.
She finds herself in an NA meeting, and comes across the father of the woman who died in her accident, Daniel (Morgan Freeman). A retired cop and long recovering alcoholic, who is now the guardian of Molly and Jesse's daughter Ryan (Celeste O'Connor). They strike up an uncomfortable friendship, and together begin to take steps to move past those few seconds that changed all of their lives.
It seems redundant at this stage in her career to suggest that Pugh is excellent, of course she is. But the genius in her casting and in her performance is that even when she acts in unforgivable ways, she still manages to remain sympathetic. Her denial of events and her constant self destruction feels genuine in a way few actors could achieve. This is of course also confounded by Braff's astutely written script.
Morgan Freeman too is still pushing himself to perform emotionally even after a long and incredible career. An imperfect and conflicted man, Daniel's almost adoption of Allison feels unbelievable but it is still compelling. He is out of his depth as the new parent of a teenager going through something he has no real understanding of, and these conflicts and co-dependencies keep the story moving at a steady pace.
A Good Person is a skillfully crafted and wonderfully acted drama, acting as an exploration of grief without falling into sensational melodrama.
A Good Person was released in cinemas on the 24th of March and will be available on Sky Cinema from the 28th of April.