It’s too negative for its own good.
Florence Pugh can use her American accent wisely, as demonstrated in “Midsommar” and “Little Women,” but she overdoes it in “A Good Person,” a crass and noisy drama, written and directed by Zach Braff, that made me want to break something. She plays the Jersey girl Allison, whose life goes to sh*t when she accidentally kills her future in-laws-Molly (Nichelle Hines) and Jesse (Toby Onwumere)-in a car accident, because she stupidly checks her iPhone.
Morgan Freeman is also miscast in the film, and he should be asking himself: “How do I get the kind of comeback that Brendan Fraser got in “The Whale?.” He plays a Vietnam War vet and ex-cop named Daniel, who was the estranged father of her fiancée Nathan (Chinaza Uche), and the deceased Molly. And now, he must take care of his granddaughter Ryan (Celeste O’Connor)-the daughter of the deceased. He was an abusive drunk responsible for his son going deaf in one year, and he feels he can do better with his 16-year-old granddaughter.
Here’s how Allison reacts to all this. She dumps Nathan, and becomes addicted to her pain medication, up to the point of cutting her hair and getting into fights with her mom (Molly Shannon).
Here’s how Ryan solves her problems. She gets into fights and curses at school. What teen who loses their parents wouldn’t?
And now, here’s how Daniel reacts to her behavior. In a mean-spirited scene, Ryan lies about being 18 on a sex website, and sleeps with a 20-year old (Ignacio Diaz-Silverio) only to have her grandpa throwing him out, accusing him of being a pervert, and then having his neighbor (Jackie Hoffman) spraying the boy with a hose and calling him “F Boy!.” Ryan reacts by calling her grandpa Daniel and disowning her, while he tells her to call him “Grandpa” and grounding her.
So now, Daniel and Allison both find themselves in a support group. At least, he doesn’t attack Allison for attending. In fact, he believes she should be attending. Internally, he’s just keeping his anger in. Waiting to tell her the accident was her fault, while she was blaming it on other things.
There are parts when the movie wants to cut back on the negativity, like how Daniel shows Allison his model train set, which represents his life.
And wouldn’t it be obvious that the girl finally confronts Allison for the accident that destroyed their lives? Yeah, it is. And yet, somehow, these two manage to talk things out. Maybe she can make her a teen again, considering she was once. Or maybe their chemistry could piss the grandpa off.
Braff has made an impressive directorial debut of “Garden State,” but he hasn’t directed a good film since. “A Good Person” only offers a few tender moments (and I said “few”), but it’s too cantankerous for me to enjoy. I’ve praised sad movies before, but every now and then, there has to be one to make me want to say things I shouldn’t say. This is one of those movies. Neither Pugh nor Freeman could save it, and I love these two stars. She can turn things around, but he needs to fire his agent.
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