“In life, of course, nothing is nearly as neat and tidy.”Daniel
Zach Braff takes a more conventional and less self-indulgent approach to his latest film (he remains firmly behind the camera) and this provides greater space for the central themes of grief and addiction to flourish. A Good Person is not subtle in its writing but is elevated by towering performances from Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman as individuals linked by loss arising from the same car accident. Allison’s grief is masked by painkillers to which she becomes addicted and Pugh’s portrayal is a study in showcasing both the inner pain and how it it muted. Freeman’s portrayal of Daniel is fuelled by anger as a man struggling to be better than he was. Additional connective tissue is provided by Celeste O’Connor as the teenager Daniel is ill-equipped to raise and who forms a connection with Allison. Shot in a more naturalistic style than we have previously seen from Braff, this is a tender film with genuine emotion even if its execution is frequently heavy-handed. If one focuses on the addiction side of the story (which commands an outsized portion of the running time) one will be disappointed by derivative depictions but, taken as a whole with its commentary on grief and the way that those still grieving can aid one another, A Good Person has more to offer than may initially appear.