review – a good person

According to what I’ve read, writer/director Zach Braff made this movie for his girlfriend (at the time) Florence Pugh. History has shown that doing that is often a bad idea. One reason is because if you eventually break up – which Zach Braff and Florence Pugh have according to what I’ve read – it makes working on and promoting the movie somewhat awkward. Another reason is because sometimes the movie focuses on one character instead of the entire cast.

After an opening voice over by Morgan Freeman, the first scenes introduce Allison (Florence Pugh) and her soon to be husband Nathan (Chinaza Uche) celebrating their upcoming wedding at a party. The next day, Allison is driving to see her wedding dress with her soon to be sister-in-law Molly (Nichelle Hines) and Molly’s husband Jesse (Toby Onwumere) when a tragic car accident occurs. The next thing Allison knows, she’s in the hospital with her mother Diane (Molly Shannon) and Nathan by her bedside. As she’s trying to find out what happened, the police come into the room and accidentally tell her that the accident involved fatalities. Molly and Jessie died in the car crash.

Then the story jumps to a year later. Allison is living at home with her mother. She’s unemployed, Nathan is gone (who left who is never really detailed), and she’s addicted to pills. Her addiction is so bad that she gets upset when her mother flushes the last of her pills down the toilet. She desperately tries to get her prescription refilled or to get pills another way.

Meanwhile Daniel (Morgan Freeman) –Nathan and Molly’s father – is having a hard time raising his granddaughter Ryan (Celeste O’Conner) – Molly and Jessie’s daughter – by himself since Nathan has moved away. Ryan hooks up with older boys that Daniel quickly kicks out. He struggles to resist the urge to start drinking again, like he did when he was raising his children.

One day, Allison walks into an addition anonymous group that Daniel is attending. At first, she tries to leave, but Daniel talks her into staying. He thinks that maybe they can help each other move on from the tragic event that changed their lives. However, the path to recovery isn’t easy for anyone, even if you have people supporting you.

Most of this movie is about Florence Pugh’s character Allison – the only truly developed character in the movie. There are some good scenes – including when she plays piano and sings (the first time she’s ever sang in a movie as far as I know) – but there’s also some bad scenes. There’s a scene where her search for pills brings her to a bar where she talks to a couple guys that went to school with her. The scene is very out of place, and I’m confused if she went to that bar because she knew they’d be there or she visited several bars looking for someone to get her pills.

Morgan Freemans character Daniel seems almost like a copy of Michael Caine in the “Going in Style” remake – which Zack Braff also directed and Morgan Freeman co-starred in. In both movies, the man takes care of his granddaughter. The only difference is in “Going in Style”, Michael Caines’s daughter and ex-son-in-law haven’t died.

Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman are the best thing about this movie. If they weren’t it in, this could have been like those similar dramas that air on cable TV. Florence Pugh is great in several scenes, although she also struggles through some of the bad scenes. Morgan Freeman manages to add some depth and humor to his character. He almost steals the movie. I think if he were in a few more scenes he would have.

Overall, I liked the movie, but I think it would have been better it showed more of the other characters and less of Allison. For example, if I could have seen Allison and Daniels relationship before the tragedy, it could have been an interesting contrast to their relationship in the movie when they re-connect at the addiction meeting. However, when a writer/director is in a personal relationship with someone, that person becomes the focus for everything. She is certainly the focus of this movie.

I give it 5 out of 10 stars.