A Good Person (2023)

Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman will break your heart in this tale of tragedy and (hoped for) redemption

Photo of Frances Pugh, Morgan Freeman, and Celeste O'Connor in ‘A Good Person’ (2023)

Frances Pugh, Morgan Freeman, and Celeste O'Connor in ‘A Good Person’ (2023)

Synopsis

When everything is too happy, you know something terrible is going to happen.

Allison (Florence Pugh) and Nathan (Chinaza Uche) are celebrating their engagement with friends. Allison plays the piano and sings beautifully. Nathan gives a touching confession of love. It's perfect.

But in the movies, perfect stories are meant to be ruined by tragedy. And tragedy strikes. Thus the story begins in earnest a year later. Allison has recovered physically from an accident, but she is still suffering emotionally. Doctors will no longer renew her prescription for the dangerously addictive Oxycontin, and she goes through ever-degrading lengths to acquire some.

Nathan is no longer in the picture. But a chance meeting with Nathan's father, Daniel (Morgan Freeman), hints that perhaps her journey has headed in the right direction.

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You want this to turn out well. But it's clearly a movie that is struggling for authenticity. So, you're not sure it will. Thus, when moments come when you expect a cheerful, uplifting speech or an unexpected turn of attitude, it doesn't always come, or come as you expect.

Pugh is just heartbreakingly good as the tortured Allison, trying, and often failing, to find peace and redemption. You want her to find the right path, and just want to yell at her at the times when you see her heading in the wrong direction, to the point where you begin to question whether she deserves the redemption that she desperately wants.

Freeman, as always, is so grounded as a man in his elder years, adrift in his new role as caretaker to bitter granddaughter Ryan (Celeste O'Connor). He's trying to become the "good person" he thinks God has challenged him to be. But, like Pugh, he is not sure he can, or deserves to.

O'Connor is likewise completely believable as the frustrating and endearing teen who is struggling with resentment and rebelliousness.

‘Comparison is the thief of joy,’ Daniel tells Florence near the end. Remember that when evaluating how things turn out. You're watching this for the fine performances, not for the movie you wanted this to be.

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Comparison is the thief of joy.

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