A Good Person

Directed by: Zach Braff
Distributed by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Written by Taylor Baker


Zach Braff’s “A Good Person” is a return to many mainstays in the writer/director’s record, set in New Jersey where his most popular film, “Garden State” was also set it follows Braff’s real-life ex-girlfriend Florence Pugh who plays the character Allison. After a terrible accident, she navigates an addiction to pills opposite Braff’s real-life friend Morgan Freeman who he has collaborated with on films like “Going in Style” and “The Comeback Trail.” That’s not to say that “A Good Person” isn’t a sincere work unto itself, but no matter how excruciatingly sincere Braff is, his work at its best feels like a competently made TV movie. Despite being built on plot points like child abuse, alcoholism, addiction, and tragedy it comes across as breezy. It’s a deeper issue than the stakes of the film not manifesting, there’s something about the clear-eyed presentation of its bleary-eyed characters that seems to signal a quality of inauthenticity. 

But there is an immense charm to seeing Morgan Freeman utter “Fuck her!” to his teenage granddaughter after she gets in a fight with a fellow student on the soccer pitch. Just as there is a charm to Braff’s storytelling style and to the film’s star Pugh. This charm doesn’t lessen the film’s breeziness but it does add an affable nature to it, cementing its watchability if not its believability. With wonky screenshot-like sound effects when Pugh scrolls through her ex-fiancee’s Instagram and a lack of clear physical location and geographic continuation in the world, Braff’s film comes across as flimsy when you examine it. The plot machinations happen too quickly for a film about addiction, loss, and abuse. Thus the audience drifts loosely around the events that happen on screen but are not directly affected by them nor are they grounded in the plight of the central figures.

Braff can stage and shoot interiors well though. As a director, he has excellent control of charisma which he often uses to convey the nature of relationships between his characters quickly. It’s just that none of it feels like it’s going to amount to anything while you watch it, and the fact that ultimately it doesn’t that keeps “A Good Person” from being anything other than a movie you forgot you watched.

“A Good Person” Trailer

You can follow more of Taylor’s thoughts on film on LetterboxdTwitter, and Rotten Tomatoes.

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