Movie Review: A Good Person

Writer/director Zach Braff’s third film is so bleak and clunky that even megastar Florence Pugh can’t save it.


The cloying, manipulative drama “A Good Person” is the third feature written, directed and produced by Zach Braff. It’s clear the actor and very occasional filmmaker made some definitive  directorial choices with the film.

Unfortunately, they’re all bad choices.

At least he’s trying, I suppose.

The film stars Florence Pugh as Allison, a twentysomething dealing with the aftermath of a deadly car accident. On the New Jersey turnpike, she took her eyes off the road for a brief moment, missing an upcoming piece of construction equipment; she survived, but her passengers — the sister and brother-in-law of her fiance — did not.

The accident ended her engagement and led to a reliance on opioids. With habit threatening to spiral into addiction and worse, Allison finally attends a 12-step meeting, only to run into Daniel (Morgan Freeman), the father of her estranged partner. This unlikely, tragic coincidence — call it a meet-glum — leads to an even unlikelier friendship, one that stumbles from one difficult conversation to the next without ever giving the audience a moment to wring out their handkerchiefs.

For the second time in less than a year, Pugh is left to shoulder the burden of a doomed project. Braff’s script is too maudlin, too implausible and far too condescending toward its protagonist; there’s no saving “A Good Person,” but she’s determined to try. (Her efforts are even more futile here than they were in the case of “Don’t Worry Darling,” because that film at least offered style and a half-baked mystery to keep the audience awake.) At least she has Freeman, whose undeniable skill and charm make several conversations engaging, if never effective.

Unfortunately, Braff is just not a great writer — and as a director, he’s worse. For all the cliches and offenses of the script, it might’ve been salvaged into at least a passable weeper by a filmmaker with flair. Braff, on the other hand, seems unable to handle even the basics, with poor shot composition and lighting throughout.

He also maintains the steadfast focus on misery and unhappiness that has carried through his three films. At the risk of overanalysis, perhaps this beloved sitcom star feels that serious work must involve making the audience sob. It’s a shame when even performers adept at comedy try to avoid it.

My Rating: 3/10

“A Good Person” is now playing in theaters.


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