A GOOD PERSON Review — Performances Elevate a Basic Film

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Lisa Johnson Mandell’s A Good Person review says the film has an A-list cast and a B-list script, with Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman trying to breathe life into a mawkish story.

A good person reviewI was deep into Barbara Kingsolver’s revelatory novel Demon Copperhead when I had the opportunity to screen A Good Person. Both had opiod addiction as a central theme, but one was profound and beautifully written. A Good Person was not.

I know comparing writer/director Zach Braff to Pulitzer Prize nominated author Kingsolver is hardly fair. But Braff did have some advantages, like recruiting the transcendent Florence Pugh and all time great Morgan Freeman to tell his story. If they can’t give a tale weight, nothing can.

The plot is forced and scattered, and not easy to encapsulate. Pugh plays Allison, a hopeful bride-to-be who gets involved in a car crash that kills her fiancé’s sister and brother-in-law. Their orphaned teenage daughter is then forced to live with her cranky grandfather Daniel (Freeman).

A year later, Allison has dumped he finance, lost her job, and is still recovering from the head injuries she suffered in the accident, as well as a nasty opioid addiction. Wouldn’t you know she runs into Daniel (an alcoholic) at an AA meeting, and from there forms a reluctant relationship with Daniel and his granddaughter.

These relationships are spiked, and don’t flow smoothly. That’s to the film’s credit. Everyone makes as many bad decisions as good ones, which feels authentic, as does Pugh’s performance.

What feels forced is the use of AA meetings as a storytelling device. Zach is certainly not alone in depending on the exposition in meetings to tell the story for him. Characters describe their feelings rather than show them, and solutions are given rather than earned. Heroes are available for the asking and offering. I feel it’s a bit lazy and low budget, and it’s done to death on both big and small screens.

It’s also far too common a literary device, but Kingsolver would never resort to that—she handles it as a side note, not as an all-in-one utility tool to fix everything.

I’m not quite sure who this film is made for. Aside from its elevating performances, it feels more like grim episodic television or a Hallmark movie. There’s nothing wrong with either of those, but it’s easy enough to watch them at home. Unless you’re a fully committed Pugh or Freeman fan, you’ll probably want to wait until it streams.

Rated R

2 Hours 9 Minutes

If this A Good Person film review somehow encourages you to run over to your local cineplex to see it, get times and tickets at Fandango.com.

Lisa Johnson Mandell’s A Good Person review says the film has an A-list cast and a B-list script, with Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman trying to breathe life into a mawkish story.

 

 

 

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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and seen on Rotten Tomatoes. She is the author of three bestselling books, and spends as much of her free time as possible with her husband Jim and her jolly therapy Labradoodle Frankie Feldman.

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