A GOOD PERSON

★★★

FLORENCE PUGH/ZACH BRAFF COLLABORATION TACKLES GRIEF

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Chris Dos Santos
18th April 2023

Grief is by no means a lacking topic in cinema, but because everyone grieves differently audience members often gravitate toward different films because of their own personal connection with the topic. No one movie can universally tackle the subject because everyone has such a unique way of grieving. 'The Fallout', 'The King of Staten Island', 'This Where I Leave You', 'Manchester by the Sea' - they all have the similar throughline of dealing with loss, but all take very different directions in how the characters deal with it. Zach Braff ('Garden State', 'Going in Style') is returning to the director's chair for his take on the topic.

Allison (Florence Pugh, 'Don't Worry Darling', 'Black Widow') is about to get married to long-time perfect boyfriend Nathan (Chinaza Uche, 'The Devil Below', Apple TV+'s 'Dickinson'). On the way to her wedding dress fitting, tragedy strikes that changes multiple lives forever. A year later, Allison has moved back in with her mum (Molly Shannon, 'Promising Young Woman', 'Fun Mom Dinner') in her childhood town and has an addiction linked to the drugs used in her recovery. She is also struggling with how to move on from the event, and whether that's even possible. This leads her to forming a connection with Daniel (Morgan Freeman, 'Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard', 'Million Dollar Baby'), Nathan's dad, and his granddaughter Ryan (Celeste O'Connor, 'Freaky', 'Ghostbusters: Afterlife'), who are also affected by the accident.

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This isn't new information, but Pugh is an absolute acting force, and here she is on full display. Her performance - as always - is so moving and captivating, so that even with some of the mediocrity she faces with the script, she never misses a beat. From the opening scene to the credits, your eyes and emotions don't leave her. This could have been a throwaway indie in between blockbusters like these films often are for other actors, but she falls hard into the role and makes this a film not to miss.

As mentioned, the script does need work but that's not to say it's bad by any means. Sometimes the story takes a bit more of a generic or predictable route, especially considering the focus on grief. There isn't much new that the film brings to the conversation, but this is 100% Pugh's film and her performance makes it worth the journey.

Grief for me personally - as for many, I expect - is a complicated relationship. Just when you think you are over something, that enough years have based, the smallest thing can take you back to that place, that feeling. Even when we think we are over something we are brought right back, and 'A Good Person' really did grab me emotionally and give me space to reflect and feel some of those emotions I thought I was over. Of course, this is a completely personal experience and I can see the flaws of the script, but for a film to move me emotionally is something to note. If you have any experience with loss, 'A Good Person' will touch you, even if it's not a perfect package.

If you have any experience with loss, 'A Good Person' will touch you, even if it's not a perfect package.

Because grief is so personal, a lot of media depicting it often falls flat because it tries to play it safe and is often generic. The best example of this is 'Collateral Beauty', which is so determined to manipulate the audience to cry that it comes across as disgusting and frustrating. While 'A Good Person' does have some generic plot points and dialogue, it never felt manipulative and its conversation around loss and how you are meant to move on from the different perspectives felt really interesting, so for that I give it credit.

'A Good Person' may not be Zach Braff's best directional effort or, as Florence Pugh's filmography grows, on the heavy hitters list, but it does serve a purpose. From strong performances to very emotional moments, there's something here for many of people.

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