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‘A Good Person’ review: Dir. Zach Braff (2023)

Zach Braff’s last directorial effort was the fun but flawed generic, geriatric crime flick Going In Style, and after helming episodes of Ted Lasso and Apple’s recent Shrinking, returns to the feature fold with a much deeper more serious effort, A Good Person.

© 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.

Opening in cinemas this week ahead of an April streaming drop in the UK, A Good Person centers upon Florence Pugh’s Allison, a twenty-something small-town New Jersey native with a promising future ahead of her. She’s got the admiration of her whole community, and she’s engaged to her high school sweetheart, Nathan (Chinaza Uche). As they go about planning their incoming wedding, Allison is involved in a road traffic accident that completely changes her future. Mild, pre-title card spoilers ahead.

The RTA involves two fatalities – Allison’s future brother-in-law and sister-in-law, though she survives. Allison is adamant that the accident was not her fault, but she may or may not have been checking her phone as her car plowed into a construction vehicle reversing into her path. A year on, where the core of the movie is set, and Allison is a different person. She’s back living with her mother (played by Molly Shannon), and she’s addicted to opioids, her prescriptions were stopped by her team of doctors weeks previous. Still struggling to come to terms with things, she turns to a local help group, which also happens to be attended by her former future father-in-law, Daniel (Morgan Freeman), a career cop, now retired, who also seems to be struggling to hold onto his sobriety. The film tackles how that relationship develops, and also the impact the situation it all has on impressionable teenager Ryan (Celeste O’Connor) who, after losing her mother and father in the accident, now lives with her grandfather.

Clocking in at over two hours, A Good Person is quite the slog and you feel every one of those 129 minutes. Serious subject matter and deep melodrama are diluted positively, though, Braff pulling from his sprawling comedic past to lighten the mood in his screenplay through various scenarios and frequent, witty dialogue. Braff’s script sometimes borders on the cliche but doesn’t he doesn’t quite fall into the cheesy realms that he could easily have. Lines like ‘I’ll hug you with my eyes,’ land just about in the right tone, and the narrative direction veers from where you expect it to go.

Pugh naturally is excellent as Allison, the film is largely seen through her eyes, while Freeman is of course a standout. There’s great chemistry between them as two lost souls at very different stages of their lives, and I love the idea of the train set that Freeman’s Daniel has painstakingly constructed over the years to reflect and sometimes distort memories of his past life.

There are scenes later on that don’t sit as well in the narrative – a ‘chase across town’ sequence across state lines into New York didn’t sit too well and seemed massively out of place in terms of tone and the balance between slight comedy and drama/ tragedy is also a problem in places, particularly towards the end and the film’s ho-hum ending.

This will probably sit better on a TV platform rather than a cinematic setting – Sky Cinema is indeed handling the UK with a small screen debut just weeks after a limited theatrical run. Far from the standards of Braff’s greatest work in Garden State, but nowhere near the horrific misstep as reported elsewhere.

A Good Person is released in UK cinemas on 24th March followed by a Sky Cinema release (Now TV included ) in April.

A Good Person

Paul Heath



Great performances from both Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman make this every bit worth the watch. A long running time and a draining narrative might make it more suited to the pausable smaller screen, though.



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