A Good Person review- what does it really take to be good? by M Hey

She is now living with her mother (Molly Shannon) after breaking it off with Nathan, hacking off her hair and addicted to prescribed Oxycontin. We see Pugh’s stellar performance as Allison battles with herself, desperately searching for more drugs once her prescription is discontinued, reaching out to an old colleague for what appears to be a pleasant catch-up, who angrily refuses to provide her with more drugs. Eventually, she hits rock bottom, stuck in a stuffy bar as she downs a tequila with some old highschool deadbeats who promise to give her a fix. And get her to admit what she’s really become. A junkie. 


That is until Allison, realising she needs help, meets Daniel (Morgan Freeman) at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. He’s Nathan’s estranged and once alcoholic turned sober father and has been struggling with the urge to drink since having to take care of his granddaughter Ryan (Celeste O’Connor), who is proving stressful and demanding. Together, they form an unlikely bond on Allison’s journey to recovery. We see them exchange addiction stories at meetings, opening themselves up and helping to heal one another, and little moments of peace as Daniel reveals his carefully handcrafted model train set to Allison, showing her at least one world he is grateful he can control. These small scenes help to keep the film flowing.

Whilst the film follows all the expected tropes of a movie focused around addiction: Allison’s obsessive and protective behaviour over her pills, her realisation she needs help, an eventual relapse and then her recovery, it is all recovered by Pugh’s unflinching performance. It isn’t too overwhelming and whilst some moments tend to lean towards cliche, Pugh’s depiction of such a vast variety of emotions is successful. Morgan Freeman also provides a raw presentation of his nuanced and emotionally complex character, however Daniel’s past and present seem somewhat disconnected. Whilst we mostly see a compassionate old man, whose main goal is to help the ones he loves despite his broken past, there are moments where we see the darker side of him in a way that feels so sudden and detached from what we’ve previously seen. Although this is likely the point, some of the choices he makes seem melodramatic, if a little unrealistic (pulling a gun out on some unsuspecting teens feels slightly over the top). 

In spite of this, a majority of the film is captivating and enthralling. Braff’s characters are 3D and real, and the moral turmoil experienced by both Allison and Daniel battles with the idea of what really makes a good person? Do some of your actions solely define who you are? Although it was a subtle message, it was something thought-provoking that ran throughout the course of the film. Daniel’s ability to put aside his judgement of Allison and try and help her formed an interesting relationship between the two that felt emotionally charged and heartfelt. 

Whilst the first two acts allowed Braff to build 3D characters dealing with a moral turmoil, forcing us to ask the question of what really makes a good person, the third act began to fall away. What was largely an emotionally charged and heartfelt film that dealt delicately with issues, it ended with a forced pay-off ending. It contained less emotional meaning and felt more like a way to try and end the film, quickly tying up loose knots. We see Allison a year later, sober and completely together after having released her first EP. The switch from Allison a year ago to now is drastic and whilst it’s all possible, we were never able to see her evolution into this new and improved person. Instead it seems like a fast forward to make sure the film isn’t too long.   

Overall, the film feels genuine and passionate with sophisticated performances from Pugh and Freeman, alongside other cast members. It deftly unravels the storyline of Allison and Daniel and although at points the movie can verge into dramatic, Braff’s characters manage to hold the plot together. 


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