I’ve spoken often about the human condition. So much so that it is probably passé by this point. However, I remain fascinated with the idea that we cling to our grief so tightly; it turns animus enough that we seek outlets that are not very good for us instead of facing our grief and dealing with it. Don’t mistake me – no one is perfect. Navigating the times we live in, we don’t seek out companionship as often and are far more guarded and less willing to share. Such is the case with Zach Braff’s latest, A Good Person, featuring Florence Pugh, Morgan Freeman, and Molly Shannon.

Braff, who also penned the script, has solid directorial instincts. As Allison, Pugh turns in a heart-rending performance as she attempts to recover from a fatal accident she was involved in. Braff’s brash, off-color humor plays exceptionally well in A Good Person’s opening frames. As Allison begins her journey toward finding herself, several conflicting, even conflagrating events occur, sending mixed signals about where the film will eventually land.

Morgan Freeman’s Daniel eventually, randomly, enters Allison’s life, and the entanglements and the resolution become very clear. Braff tries to hold back on the individual character reveals; however, by tying similarly charged characters into one life-altering event, A Good Person becomes a chore to get through.

Despite the story’s context, Pugh and Freeman play off one another exceptionally well. They are well-intentioned, yet they cannot openly acknowledge their feelings because their pasts remain unresolved. Allison turns to pain pills, and her mom Diane (Molly Shannon) is there to try to stop her, only to coo her later on. As much as I love Shannon as an actress, the role seemed too constrained before she dropped off the screen midway through the movie, with Daniel as the surrogate stand-in for Allison.

Braff does explore the need for those suffering to seek out those with similar grief in their lives eventually, and Daniel’s backstory, pictorially depicted through a 1.87-scale model train in the basement of his New Jersey home, is the strongest scene. The attention to detail, coupled with Mauro Flore’s cinematography, gives the most context to each of Allison’s and Daniel’s respective journeys.

At the same time that Allison is finding her voice, Ryan (Celeste O’Connor) is your a-typical high school student: brilliant, with aspirations of getting into Stanford, quick on her feet in soccer, and exceptionally independent. O’Connor does a solid job in her performance, even as the mischievous side of the character comes out. However, the story doesn’t offer her enough to do, implying much of the interaction between she and Allison. Similarly, Chinaza Uche’s Nathan, Allison’s former fiancée, is practical at the bookends of the movie but doesn’t hold much involvement in most of the proceedings.

Editing is A Good Person‘s most significant challenge, as scenes that punch us in the gut are effectively edited. Yet, other sequences are edited in such a way that, if you’re not entirely swept up in the story, you might very well find yourself questioning who some of the characters are or why the context seemed out of whack, marked with quick cuts away from potentially revealing moments. A scene in a bar where Allison randomly meets two classmates seeking relief from her problems, trying to numb the pain, is where A Good Person nearly stops dead in its tracks. Yes, the scene reveals some bits of Allison’s backstory that didn’t apply to the current situation. It’s as if Allison is the anchor for the story, but the distribution to the other characters is unequal, yet they seem just as critically important to finding herself again.

A Good Person is a combination of a director having all the right instincts mixed with characters who are generally well-intentioned, all anchored, in some fashion, by grief and not having an outlet for said grief. Understanding that mental health is far more critical today than it was just twenty years ago, self-care, primarily related to a traumatic event, is essential – it is imperative. It isn’t as if we can “dust off our backsides, pick ourselves up by our bootstraps, and move on.” A Good Person almost screams for that exact example, and to its credit, it attempts to do so before giving up on it. The story is intuitive enough to know that it’s not the modern way. Yet, it’s stuck within its own bubble that it dwells too long on avoiding the lingering questions, rendering it a less-than-desirable experience.

A Good Person opens in a limited release on March 24th before expanding wider on March 31st.