Directing a movie starring your ex partner may sound like a disaster waiting to happen. But that hasn’t stopped Scrubs star Zach Braff with his own movie, A Good Person.
Having written, produced and directed the piece, starring the aforementioned ex, Florence Pugh. And alongside screen legend Morgan Freeman, how will this addiction drama fare in the age of faltering cinema?
You’d think that with cinemas still reeling from the effect of multiple pandemic era restrictions, and competing with a myriad of streaming services, that the distribution team might have made this easier to find in the cinema. Thankfully, being armed with the option for NOW TV, this reviewer has a fallback option, as I wasn’t willing to travel to my nearest cinema showing the film (it was Taunton). So, armed with a large enough screen, I sit closer and turn the lights off to try and emulate the big screen. My questionable methods aside… on to the film!
It makes a degree of sense that Braff, who performed in his directorial debut Garden State, one of the progenitor films of the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ trope, would create a character such as Allison, (Pugh’s) role in the film. Good-looking, gifted (at least in a musical sense) and in a frankly sickly loving relationship with the too lovely Nathan (Chinaza Uche).
As we flash forward from the start (and for the sake of not spoiling things for those yet to watch), Allison is now in the throes of an opioid addiction (less like Trainspotting, more the ubiquitous American, middle class addiction) and hacking at her hair as well as having broken up with Nathan. To drive the plot forward, she attends a Narcotic Anonymous meeting and, of course, meets the previously alluded to absent father of her now ex-boyfriend. Said father, Daniel is played by the legendary Morgan Freeman. In fairness to both of them, their initial energy on meeting is excellent, it feels equal measures confrontational and standoffish, like watching two rival cats work out who’s going to make the first move.
However, even the excellent efforts of both of these great actors can’t work through just how contrived the whole affair is. Pugh tries her best with the source, but ultimately it’s hard to feel sympathetic OR empathetic with Allison. It’s all very ‘good person but has done a bad thing’ means that whilst the character growth happens very clearly on screen, it’s hard for it to feel particularly earned.
Freeman’s characterisation of Daniel is of course, excellent, however the metaphors laboured onto his character make it hard to shake them off and show any real nuance to the character. Sadly, the film seems to work through some old established formula that may as well be pinned up on a flowchart next to the screen. Intro – Incident – Development – Epiphany – Relapse – Recovery.
With Braff best known for his acting work on Scrubs it’s easy to forget that he’s no newcomer to directing. Having directed episodes during his tenure on Scrubs, and several films since, there’s not really any excuse for the trite work on display here.
Author: Tom, Cardiff Store