Connect with us
Florence Pugh in A Good Person


A Good Person has Strong Direction and Performances, Despite Overstuffed Plot Lines

When a movie begins and ends with a Morgan Freeman voiceover, some hard truths are on the way.

A Good Person Review

Written and directed by Zach Braff, A Good Person explores what happens when bad things happen to good people. As the story unfolds, the audience sees that a “good person” is usually flawed and complicated one. 

Garden State, Braff’s directorial debut in 2004, was beloved by audiences and critics. It was a coming-of-age story with relatable characters. The plot line was brilliant in its simplicity, allowing for more focus on character and relationship growth in the narrative. 

Garden State and A Good Person have a lot in common besides Braff’s hand in writing and direction. Both films heavily feature a middle-class suburban New Jersey backdrop. The protagonists struggle with family dysfunction and addiction. Dark humor is abundant and suits the characters’ moods. Bikes are a primary mode of transportation. However, A Good Person tries to tackle too many plots in its two-hour timeframe, leaving not enough time to develop and wrap them. 

A Good Place begins with the characters settled in a good place. A tipsy Allison (Florence Pugh) soulfully dedicates a love song to her fiancé, Nathan (Chinaza Uche). This brief glimpse of “before Allison” lets the audience see how much she has to lose. An accident the next day changes Allison’s life and her relationship with Nathan forever. The story picks up one year later, as Allison struggles with an opioid addiction following her accident. Allison’s mother (Molly Shannon) enables her behavior and glosses over her daughter’s attempts to ask for help. 

Morgan Freeman and Florence Pugh in A Good Person

Allison’s guilt leads her to Nathan’s father, Daniel (Morgan Freeman) and Daniel’s granddaughter, Ryan (Celeste O’Connor). Their complicated dynamic allows Allison to see her situation with more honesty. When Allison sees how the consequences of her accident reverberate in Nathan’s family, she learns to take responsibility for herself and the consequences that remain.  

Florence Pugh, best known for her role in the controversial film, Don’t Worry, Darling, gives a heartrending performance in A Good Person. Braff’s use of close-up shots underscores her character’s pain and suffering realistically. His television background makes close-up shots a comfortable and strategic choice for telling Allison’s story. In one scene, Braff masterfully sets up a close-up shot that highlights Allison in a three-way mirror. This shot shows Allison’s reflection as clear in one mirror and blurred in another during an emotional turning point. 

Pugh thrives in a small screen setting. Her ability to convey each distinct layer of Allison’s suffering gives the movie depth and makes the audience care about her character. Pugh’s gift for showing instead of telling draws the audience into her orbit in a way that elicits empathy instead of frustration. Allison has a flawed, but ultimately redemptive character arc that suffers from the fast pacing toward the climax. 

Morgan Freeman also gives a standout performance, as a grandfather struggling with guilt. His display of grief changes thoughtfully throughout the story. He carries the plot twists with dignity and grace. His comedic timing is impeccable and keeps the script from becoming too weighed down with tragedy. Freeman and Pugh play off each other seamlessly, although some of their dialogue comes off as overly sympathetic. 

Morgan Freeman and Florence Pugh in A Good Person

Despite the combined talents of Freeman, Pugh, and the supporting cast, the film’s plot tries to tackle too many problems in its two-hour running time. It focuses on opioid addiction, alcohol addiction, physical abuse, dysfunctional parent-child relationships, family estrangement, violence, parental death, depression, and suicide. While the opioid addition arc has resonance, the myriad of other plot lines dilute it.  

Braff transitions scenes well. There are several time jumps in the story that blend seamlessly under his direction. However, with each time jump, the audience has to catch up on the events they missed. The backstory needed to keep the audience invested in the plot took attention away from the emotionally resonant storylines at hand. 

Important points became repetitive‌. Allison’s insistence that she was not at fault for the accident is a clear sign she needs to take responsibility for herself to move on. Repeated references to the origin of Nathan’s deafness leads to the conclusion there is more to the story.   

The climax of the story feels too exaggerated and out of line with the characters and the progress they made. It would have resonated more if the inciting events magnified the character’s struggles in their relationships with one another. Instead, the too-fast climax had the characters playing second to the plot. The movie has a strong, talented cast of veteran actors who are underutilized in the climax. Several epilogue scenes one year after the climax don’t offer the closure needed, given the weight of the plot lines.  

Braff’s attentive direction, combined with an accomplished cast, yields a heartbreaking story. However, this movie feels like watching several movies in one. Braff’s stories are strongest when he leans into straightforward plots and lets the characters take the lead.

Written By

Danielle Cappolla is a freelance writer, editor, and teacher based in New Jersey. She has a B.A. in English from Fordham University and an M.S. in Education and Special Education from Touro College. When she’s not writing, you can find her swapping TV theories with her family and friends over dinner. You can follow her work at

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



2001: A Space Odyssey 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: Clarke and Kubrick’s Odyssey of Discovery


Deep Impact was a serious look at the end of the world Deep Impact was a serious look at the end of the world

25 Years Later: Deep Impact was a Serious Look at the End of the World 


The Best Movies of 1973 The Best Movies of 1973

The Golden Year of Movies: 1973


The Zone of Interest The Zone of Interest

Cannes 2023: Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest is a Manicured Vision of Hell


Jeanne Du Barry review Jeanne Du Barry review

Cannes 2023: Maïwenn’s Great Hair Goes to Great Lengths in Jeanne Du Barry


Black Flies Gripping Black Flies Gripping

Cannes 2023: Black Flies— Gripping Descent into the Underbelly of New York’s Urban Misery 


Asteroid City: A Gimmicky Vanity Project Asteroid City: A Gimmicky Vanity Project

Cannes 2023: Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City is a Gimmicky Vanity Project


La Passion de Dodin Bouffant: La Passion de Dodin Bouffant:

La Passion de Dodin Bouffant: Surfeit Cooking Drama Most Inane Film at Cannes


BlackBerry movie review BlackBerry movie review

BlackBerry Is a Wonderfully Canadian Account of a Dying Tech Dream


Four Daughters Four Daughters

Cannes 2023: Four Daughters: A Family’s Journey From Goth to Niqab


The Mother Jennifer Lopez and Lucy Paez The Mother Jennifer Lopez and Lucy Paez

Jennifer Lopez’s The Mother is Eerily Similar to Enough, But That’s Not a Bad Thing


Godzilla 1998 Godzilla 1998

Godzilla at 25: When Hollywood Made a Manhattan Monster Movie, with Disastrous Results


10 Best SummerSlam Matches 10 Best SummerSlam Matches

10 Best SummerSlam Matches


The Matrix Reloaded The Matrix Reloaded

20 Years Later: The Matrix Reloaded was Underwhelming, but Still Underrated


Discovery channel Discovery channel

The Head-Scratching Moves Discovery Has Been Making


Sean Connery Sean Connery

60 Years Later, Dr. No Remains the Paragon of Bond