Directed by: Zach Braff
Written by: Zach Braff
Starring: Florence Pugh, Morgan Freeman, Celeste O’Connor, Molly Shannon, Chinaza Uche, Zoe Lister-Jones
Released: April 20, 2023
Grade: B

A Good Person

Having never won at the Oscars, despite 7 previous nominations for best actor, British star Peter O’Toole (Lawrence of Arabia) was presented an honorary Academy Award in 2002 for his long, distinguished career.  During his short acceptance speech, the 69-year-old acknowledged the many people he’d worked with across his career but also the astonishing young talent from whom he “grabs energy in handfuls.”

In that regard, Hollywood is no different from any other industry.  It’s sad when a gifted actor passes away but there’s always someone coming through to fill the gap and leave their own mark.  These thoughts were rummaging through my head while watching A Good Person, the latest creation of writer-director Zach Braff (Garden State).

The film stars iconic 85-year-old Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption) who has nothing left to prove in terms of ability, but he continues to be motivated by a love for the craft.  It’s as if he’s in a contest with the ageless Clint Eastwood to see who can last the longest!  Here, Freeman is working alongside one of the great upcoming stars of today’s generation – 27-year-old Florence Pugh who, after a breakout performance in 2016’s Lady Macbeth, has built an impressive resume with roles in Fighting with My Family, Midsommar, and Little Women.

There is nothing flash or original with the script for A Good Person.  Pugh plays a young woman who has become addicted to prescription medication after being involved in a car accident which took the life of two friends.  Freeman plays a former alcoholic who has become the sole caregiver to his rebellious teenage granddaughter following the death of her parents.  They are as different as chalk and cheese but these two come together, via some semi-contrived moments, and reluctantly help each other through their pain and suffering.

Other films have covered the subject of addiction in a more convincing and emotional manner (The Lost Weekend, The Basketball Diaries, Requiem for a Dream) but A Good Person warrants your time for its two lead performances.  The experience of Freeman and the passion of Pugh make for a nice pairing.  There are moments when the characters let their guard down and show a tormented, willing-to-change side… and there are moments when the guard springs back up and they refuse to acknowledge their problems and alternate views.

A few plot points are heavy-handed (“I’ve read the reports”) and a few others are undercooked (the teenage daughter) but A Good Person does remind us that asking for help, when facing a life-altering addiction, is a tough first step.