“In life, of course, nothing is nearly as neat and tidy.”
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.
“I just don’t exhibit emotions like everyone else, on the inside, I’m vomiting.”
With Harold Ramis’ death in 2014, it seemed unlikely that a long-planned Ghostbusters follow-up would ever happen, moreso after the 2016 reboot, and yet it eventually arrived in Afterlife, which is dedicated to Ramis. The film hands the reins down to a new generation — literally in the case of Jason Reitman, who steps into his father’s director’s chair — as Egon’s family inherit his farm and learn about his work. Stylistically, Afterlife often feels like an 80s family movie with a glossier sheen (much like Super 8), its soundtrack peppered with welcome callbacks to the original score. Finn Wolfhard may be more recognisable but Mckenna Grace’s performance as Phoebe is the heart of the film, a 12 year old struggling with neurodivergence and every bit Egon’s granddaughter. The action is nonsensical as the children inexplicably know how to trap ghosts with 30-year-old equipment or use a tiny remote control car that outpaces a regular one, but Ghostbusters action was always more about a flashy lightshow than choreography. There is plenty of fan-service with Paul Rudd’s character fanboying over the the original Ghostbusters and a host of cameos, but Afterlife delivers more than just nostalgia. Its formula of running either toward or away from ghosts may become repetitive, but the character relationships have much of the warmth that made the original work. It may not be an unqualified success but, with another sequel in production, Afterlife has proved that the legacy of the Ghostbusters is far from dead.