Florence Pugh In Zach Braff’s Emotional Movie – Deadline


A wily old pro teams up with one of the most exciting young actresses of the day in the emotionally loaded drama A Good Person. Zach Braff’s latest feature excels at taking the measure of how people cope with personal tragedy and does so in a vital and engaging way that’s far more invigorating than depressing. Braff essentially makes one feature film every 10 years (Garden State and Wish I Was Here came before), and while he otherwise busies himself with music, television and other pursuits, his talent is such that you’d like to see him wade more frequently and deeper into film work than he so far has.

This may be melodrama, but it’s melodrama of a pretty high order, one that benefits from a first-rate cast led by Florence Pugh and Morgan Freema and shifts tones and moods that startle with their bluntness and honesty. That raucous laughs emerge from such an upsetting story is a testament to the filmmaker’s daring and dexterity.

The film wrestles bravely with emotion that could scarcely be more disturbing, that of guilt that will haunt the responsible party forever and supply endless pain to the reckless but soon remorseful perpetrator. The writer-director’s curiosity clearly engaged him deeply and drives the drama into unusually turbulent waters, themselves a factor in the young woman’s fate. She knows that her responsibility for a young woman’s death will curse her life forever, and the film excels at catching the many ups and downs of her emotional life.

The film’s opening minutes neatly set up the well-off suburban New York lifestyle of Allison (Pugh), an intelligent, feisty young woman, as well as some family friends. Partying in the pool area is charged with the moods of the kids, particularly teenager Allison, who seems favorably inclined to attacking the other kids and families in the ritzy environment. But in the meantime, she’s up for just getting high, which she does with abandon that’s morphed into restless meanness and even danger to those around her as well as herself.

In a pique of reckless teen behavior, Allison causes a car accident that ends up killing another girl. It might have technically been an accident, but not really, as the gravity of the turn of events devastates the families involved and makes Allison a pariah, especially to herself. There’s no softening the blow, no possible excuses; she might not have been legally guilty of a crime, but she was inexcusably at fault and she knows it, first and foremost due to the opioids she’s so freely consumed.

Pugh is one of those gifted actors who can look gorgeous one moment and a wreck the next, and every note in between will instantly feel just right.

Just when one might think that this will become a predictable story of reconciliation and forgiveness, you would be both right and wrong; it’s rather more complicated, in that David (Freeman) is an older man, a longtime cop, now retired, who has more or less decided that he is Allison’s father-in-law.

This turn of events gives the drama some unexpected avenues to explore, and this is where two very fine actors can really get into it. We know to expect this from Freeman when he’s got something good to play, but this tale really enables Pugh to spread her wings in many directions, and she’s very exciting to watch as Allison takes it all in and begins a journey to some sort of resolution and clarity.

The two leads carry the film in an immensely gratifying way, and Braff is alert to the story’s many dramatic, even sometimes amusing, possibilities. And it’s only at the end that you can understand this often turbulent film’s title.

Title: A Good Person
Director-screenwriter: Zach Braff
Cast: Florence Pugh, Molly Shannon, Chinaza Uche, Celeste O’Connor, Morgan Freeman
Distributor: MGM
Release date: March 24
Rating: R