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A Good Person review: Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman elevate this earnest melodrama | CPT PPP Coverage

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A Good Person review: Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman elevate this earnest melodrama appeared on by Charlotte O’Sullivan.


ere’s an earnest melodrama that director Zach Braff wrote during lockdown as a gift for his then-girlfriend Florence Pugh. With boyfriends like this who needs enemies?

Vivacious New Jersey girl Allison (Pugh) is on the brink of being her best self: about to be married to her adoring fiancé, she has a load of friends and a burgeoning musical career (Pugh, who performs several songs, has a deliciously husky singing voice).

But the fabric of Allison’s existence is destroyed when – driving her sister-in-law and brother-in-law to a dress fitting – she takes her eye off the road and winds up in an accident that kills both passengers. A year later, by now hooked on OxyContin, living with her mum and plagued by abandonment issues about her dad, she goes to an AA/NA meeting.

There she connects with her ex-fiancé’s estranged father, Daniel (Morgan Freeman), who is trying and failing to be the perfect guardian angel to his orphaned, traumatised teenage grandaughter, Ryan.

If you think the plot sounds bad on paper, it’s even more clunky, contrived and implausible on screen.

Jeong Park

A Good Person will be bleak viewing for those who adore Braff’s cult hit, Garden State. Flawed fathers; life-changing accidents; the damage done by legal drugs; the toxic impact of guilt. The films cover many of the same themes yet, in terms of originality, are world’s apart.

Having said all that, A Good Person looks gorgeous (director of photography, Mauro Fiore, is a magician with natural light), has a diverting soundtrack, put together by The National’s Bryce Dessner, and some of the dialogue is nuanced, searing and properly funny.

Pugh, as you’d expect, ensures Allison’s reaction is multi-layered. We see anger and panic on the character’s face, as well as excitement. That intensity never lets up – Pugh can hurl us into an existential chasm just by widening her eyes. When Allison glares at herself, in a three-way mirror, you may forget to breathe. And the way she murmurs the word “Mama” (Allison has a fraught relationship with her frazzled mum) packs a different punch every time.

As for Freeman, he induces chills, particularly in a scene that takes place in the basement of Daniel’s house. For decades, Freeman has being playing weary old timers. Luckily for us, the 85 year-old has lost none of his ability to surprise.

You’re not seeing Pugh and Freeman at full strength. Still, even in this half-hopeless effort, they’re as good as it gets.

129mins, cert 15

In cinemas from March 24 and on Sky Cinema from April 18

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