NOW IN THEATERS! Many stories have been told about Alcoholics Anonymous and its derivations into narcotics, abuse, and other addictions. There’s even a film about a 12-step program for racism. But what kind of story do you get when you team up Florence Pugh, Morgan Freeman, and writer-director Zach Braff in A Good Person?
Pugh plays Allison, a woman on top of the world. She’s about to marry the love of her life, Nathan (Chinaza Uche), and finally move to the big city on this strong foundation of love. But everything changes when Allison drives with her soon-to-be sister-in-law, Molly (Nichelle Hines), to try on wedding dresses. As the distracted Allison glances down at a map app, a truck rolls out onto the highway. In the ensuing accident, Allison is severely injured, and Molly dies.
Cut to a year later. Nathan has moved on with a new love, while Allison lives as a recluse in her mother’s home. She refuses to leave, and in a fit of rage, her mom, Diane (Molly Shannon), throws the last remaining prescription of oxycontin down the toilet. Allison then puts herself in some incredibly awkward situations to get her hands on more. Realizing that she’s a junkie, Allison attends the local church’s NA meeting. The moment she steps into the room, she sees Nathan and Molly’s father, Daniel (Morgan Freeman), and bolts. Daniel chases Allison down and tells her she’s meant to be here.
“Realizing that she’s a junkie, Allison attends the local church’s NA meeting.”
Again, A Good Person tells a story we’ve seen before. But by adding Braff, Pugh, and Freeman, these well-worn themes take on some nuance we’ve not seen before. If you study storytelling and screenwriting, you know exactly where the narrative is headed. Allison and Daniel work together through her addiction while revealing some of the essential tenants of the twelve-step process. As things seem to go well for Allison, you know it all has to come crashing down by the third act.
I don’t think this film would have worked with lesser actors. Veteran actors find ways of making schmaltzy plots feel less so and preachy moments less so. Pugh establishes the perfect yet slightly annoying person at the start as Nathan’s fiance. This makes the crash to the bottom so profound, and the actor empathetically becomes a downtrodden addict fighting her way to that all-too-elusive sobriety. Pugh’s so good. It’s almost as if the role was written for her. But Freeman plays the most challenging character in the film, especially for audiences. As Daniel, he’s forced to place himself in a position of forgiveness toward Allison while, at the same time, being a very flawed man in need of forgiveness himself.
The idea of forgiveness is, to me, the heart of A Good Person, and is why I highly recommend it. Unfortunately, we live in a society today that would rather cancel than forgive. A world that would rather assist in a person’s downfall and write any person off for being a flawed human being. The film paints a true picture of the world today as we are all broken people (often by our own choices) in search of some form of salvation in whatever form or definition you want to give it. I am not sure if anyone wants to hear this, but this is a simple yet complex drama with the intention of bringing some good to this world. I’m up for any film willing to reach out to the audience and offer some empathy and hope.
"…up for any film willing to reach out to the audience and offer some empathy and hope."