Review by Tilly Schaaf
A Good Person (Zach Braff, 2023) is the story of Allison (Florence Pugh), Allison singing, Allison smiling, Allison loving her fiancé, and being a person you’d be happy to see have all of that.
Allison gets into an accident, and she doesn’t have those things anymore. She has less even than just “not that”, she has immense grief, the all-encompassing kind.
In a time when she doesn’t want friends, she finds one in her would-be father-in-law, a Vietnam war vet, who her fiancé himself cut off contact with after he hit him so hard he lost hearing in one of his ears.
The way Allison doesn’t want to be part of this world but needs to. Tries to be something, but struggles, the way she has so much more resilience than she thinks, and maybe most importantly: the way she reaches out for connection, for the simple reason that it is necessary, makes this movie powerfully relatable. 9 and something out of ten for me!!!!
I saw this last week while at home as the closing film of the film festival, it comes out on the 23rd of March in the US. That was honestly cool to get an embargo disclaimer and comment from the film jury, a bit of context elaboration that I’ll share now:
Zach Braff wrote this while living and I think in love with Florence Pugh, not showing her while writing but I’m assuming she was aware her mannerisms for two years became material, to a story that (thank eff!!) didn’t happen to her, but by very nature can accommodate her character, even though the situation is different, it’s talk capital H Humanity, that’s how I mean in some sense, it applies to all.
I say that also because the movie talks of resilience, that’s what I mean by tapping into high degrees of relatability through all of its abrupt switches, it deliberately contrasts, to highlight: this ENTIRE life. I think it does so fantastically, and if I meet Florence Pugh I will go up to say “you’ll get an Oscar, now I know that the jury sometimes picks the wrong ones, so you get my personal Oscar”.
Braff wrote it so poignantly, you know when you can’t quite calm down your breathing yet after having cried, I cried early on and remained like that for the whoooole thang.
I better reveal one more thing here: the reach that Oxycontin has gotten in the US since first licensed by Purdue Pharma in 1996, is epidemical and absolutely entirely completely heartbreaking. Drug overdose claimed 100 000 deaths in 2021 with 8 Million known as having an illicit drug use disorder, (link source 1 and 2).
And everyone else affected, knowing somebody, losing somebody to the nothingness that lies beyond numbing down life with opioids. People with any sort of similar experience will grab this movie for a representation of how it FEELS to have a radiant smiling person dim down.
This reliability consists of something as simple as ever having been made nervous by an intoxicated person, because addiction feeds off traumas, and seeing it is like calling on everyone’s trauma trying to reach the surface.
In conversation, people with addictions are brutal, spiteful, and apathetic and whoever is opposite them has to rapidly decide how to even take these words and go forward, in the movie this is shown WELL, to say the least, by Morgan Freeman’s performance as a Vietnamese war veteran that is surprise surprise: a recovering alcoholic.
How do we deal with things that happen that are 1/100000 and won’t happen to everyone, and are unfair, so so unfair, that no amount of good can equalize it to an average of ups and downs in a life?
How do we blame people, in their pain, running down the checklist of solutions of how to do something about it and with opioid pills right there, conclude that the pain goes away soooo easily, and therefore swallow them?
Braff is showing a person that is like us, plus a 1/100000 incident, that is looking for a “painkiller”. All understandable, but also, soooo dangerous in the context of drug overprescription. It got me scared of getting sick in the US. The fact that Braff achieved relatability adds tremendous weight to his social commentary. I’m detached, but people in the US need coverage of this, and it’s good to see it is first: happening and second: happening with such a good movie.
The conversations of Alison and Daniel (Morgan Freeman), and the Tattoo of one of them are what festers the message of this movie, necessarily personal but how can I explain how intricate this cobweb of relationships is portrayed !!!
I’ll tell you a glimpse of my understanding: it will be made sure that in some way or another, you will hear what you need to hear, probably later and more nuanced than you expected, but yes life has capacities to bounce back that are for lack of other words: insane.
This movie about resilience is the instruction I would turn towards, even when I’m tired and not really wanting advice, even when I’m already overwhelmed, I’d say: you watch this movie, because the only way through is through. And if we bump up to a maximum on the real-life-o-meter, then let’s go: after all, we’re not afraid to feel now, are we?