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A Good Person 2023 Movie Review
In his dual capacity as writer and director, Zach Braff here puts us through an ordeal of excruciating contrived nonsense: a masturbatory Calvary of ersatz empathy and emotional wellness. The film goes on a long, long indie-acoustic healing journey towards indie-acoustic self-forgiveness after Florence Pugh’s Allison accidentally kills her fiance’s sister and husband while driving them in her car, having taken her eyes off the road to look at her phone.
Allison breaks up with her fiance, spirals into OxyContin addiction and alcoholism and then finds herself at 12-step meetings with her fiance’s grieving old dad and AA veteran Daniel, played by Morgan Freeman, who with heartsinking inevitability delivers a sonorous voiceover of cute wisdom over the opening scene. Daniel spends a lot of time tinkering with his model railway and its hand-painted tiny human figures, a controllable mini-universe where there is no pain, you see.
The low point has to be when Allison finds herself befriending Ryan (Celeste O’Connor), the unhappy teenage daughter of the couple she killed and they wind up going out together clubbing in the city – Allison in her Nick Cave T-shirt – and it leads to an outrageously implausible crisis of painful truth-telling.
The title asks us to consider what happens when a good person does a bad thing; this film seems to imply that if you’re a good person, you can pull a gun on someone at a party in front of many witnesses and you won’t get into trouble as your exhaustively established sensitivity and suffering means there is apparently no question of the cops showing up the next morning. Braff puts us through a gruelling “relapse” montage as Allison hits the pills again after an illusory breakthrough and then a “recovery” montage as she gets it together. And the film’s single valuable lesson – the one about not looking at your phone while driving – is all but forgotten.