Film Assessment: “A Good Individual” Addresses Habit With Heavy Hand

It’s by no means a constructive signal in case your habit film makes Ron Howard’s “Hillbilly Elegy” look delicate by comparability, however that’s the place Zach Braff’s heavy-handed new characteristic, “A Good Individual,” wallows.

The movie (opening Thursday in South Florida) begins promisingly sufficient, particularly for the charming lovebirds at its middle, Allison and Nathan (Florence Pugh and Chinaza Uche), fiancées celebrating their engagement. He’s an athlete, and he or she’s an aspiring singer-songwriter toiling, in the intervening time not less than, as a salesman for Large Pharma. “I’m not going to go to hell for reasonable to extreme psoriasis,” she tells herself.

En path to strive on wedding ceremony attire, tragedy strikes: A automotive accident, attributable to Allie’s distracted driving, that takes two harmless lives from Nathan’s facet of the household. Minimize to a 12 months later, and Nathan is out of the image. In an irony that’s fortunately not terribly belabored, given her earlier occupation, Allie is now hooked on the Oxycontin initially prescribed for bodily ache. She lives together with her mother (Molly Shannon in a thankless function), whose substances of desire are wine and cigarettes, in an addict’s typical suburban hellscape. Simply moments into experiencing this new, bedraggled model of Allie, we see tablets flushed down a bathroom, a screaming match between mom and grown baby, determined groveling to a pharmacist to refill a lapsed prescription, and avenue medicine scored from a skeevy barfly straight out of Central Casting.

Braff has written and directed nice work previously—“Backyard State” was a touchstone of my faculty years—however not like that non-public and enduring debut, “A Good Individual” feels schematic and nameless, a Xerox of each habit image that’s come earlier than it. Addressing delicate topics with a leaden contact, “A Good Individual” is suffering from redemption-movie clichés.

Florence Pugh as Allison in A GOOD PERSON, directed by Zach Braff, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Photos movie. Credit score: Jeong Park / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Photos © 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Photos Inc. All Rights Reserved.

They prolong to its twin story, one which finally re-collides with Allie’s. Morgan Freeman, dusting off his deific persona and spiking it with the saltiness of his Vietnam veteran backstory, performs Nathan’s estranged father Daniel, an abusive alcoholic 10 years sober, whose battle with the bottle is re-ignited by Allie’s auto accident and its shattering aftermath. The 2 characters meet on their highway to Damascus when Allie seems in Daniel’s restoration group, forging an unlikely alliance.

“A Good Individual” is a reminder that Freeman, for all of the acquainted beats and rhythms with which he infuses Daniel, is certainly a fabulous actor, and he practically redeems each scene he’s in. With all respect to Pugh, one of many best actors of her era and who goes via all of the motions of an addict’s illness with out problem, solely Freeman is ready to promote Braff’s risible dialogue and not less than create the phantasm of a three-dimensional individual.

The script, although, is unsalvageable. Each scene appears like a lecture, practically each second heavier than the piano at which Allie progressively regains her joie de vivre. Its contrivances are each elementary and crassly minor; an lively shooter drill on the faculty of Daniel’s granddaughter is exploited as a narrative gadget simply to plant the woman again house at a time when she isn’t purported to be. It’s fairly disgusting, the extra I give it some thought.

It’s no shock, then, that Braff resorts to an emotionally manipulative rating to promote this materials, as a result of it doesn’t go the scent check of authenticity by itself. To see how effectively the opioid epidemic might be dealt with from each angle, witness the magisterial sweep of Hulu’s “Dopesick,” which had reality to spare. There’s little to be present in Braff’s secondhand drama, a misguided folly of noble intent.

“A Good Individual” opens Thursday at Cinemark Palace in Boca Raton, Paragon Theaters in Delray Seashore and different South Florida theaters.

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