Monday 15 May 2023

A Good Person (2023)

I think we all know by now that Florence Pugh can do no wrong and here she is again, stealing the show in a virtual double-header with Morgan Freeman. The film is a creation of comedy actor-turned-writer/director Zach Braff and what a splendid job he has done with a beautifully crafted and moving story.

Having suggested that it's a two-header, I have to back-track a little and admit that the whole cast have done fine jobs in their roles, but most of the screen time has been engulfed by Pugh and Morgan. Florence Pugh (Don't Worry Darling, Midsommer, The Wonder) plays Allison who is about to be married to Nathan (Chinaza Urch), to whom she is deeply committed and in love. Soul Mates stuff. There's a tragic accident while she's driving a car, she wakes up in a hospital bed to find out all about it - and we leap forward a year.

There were two passengers in the accident - Nathan's sister and brother-in-law - and as we pick up the story with Allison living with her mum, it's clear that Nathan and her are no long an item. Morgan Freeman (Transcendence, Se7en, Outbreak) plays Nathan's dad, Daniel, who is an ex-soldier and long-term police officer with a drink problem. Drink problems and addiction becomes the theme of this film. Allison, a year on, is addicted to prescription pain-killers and will do pretty much anything to get them, once the doctor stops prescribing.

Grandad Daniel is living with Ryan (Celeste O'Connor) the 16 year-old niece of Nathan - now with no mum. Daniel is not making a very good job of it, but he is making a good job of keeping his drinking in check, with the help of local AA/NA group - which he is attending one day when Allison turns up to start her recovery. Daniel privately holds her responsible for the death of his daughter, but faces his greatest challenge now that she's turned up, forgiving her and keeping himself on the straight and narrow - whilst also trying to regain the trust of son Nathan, with whom he has had a difficult past.

Daniel and Allison, over time, form an unlikely bond/friendship which has its ups and downs, good and bad, challenging and smooth. The chemistry between the two of them works really well on screen and we're treated to a masterclass in acting. As I said earlier, the pair of them steal the show with phenomenally powerful performances, gut-wrenching scene after gripping emotional sequence. It would take a cold-hearted viewer not to shed a tear at the very least. But it's not soppy and holds its line with intelligence and class in terms of acting, storytelling and direction.

We now enter the meat of the film which is very much about harrowing grief, loss, recovery, relationships, abuse through alcohol, forgiveness, hopelessness, addiction, helplessness, guilt and regret. Although a central part of the production is about addiction, it's also very much about lives destroyed by events - to some degree outside of the control of the characters. The film tries to inject some humour, too, but even then - the audience sees it through the eyes of the characters' destruction.

I won't give away any of the outcomes of course, and there are one or two eventualities which I think could have been done differently, but that's not what this is really about. It's just so smart and incredibly well imagined, scripted, delivered and so very dramatic. You might have worked out by now that I'm hugely impressed! Pugh and Morgan are superb throughout and this has to be, so far in 2023, my Film of the Year. With 7 months to go, it could be usurped, but it's gonna' take some beating. Treat yourself.

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