How MGM has sold a drama of grief and moving on
A Good Person, out this week from MGM, sees Zack Braff returning to his dual roles of writer and director.
The story focuses on the relationship between Daniel (Morgan Freeman) and Allison (Florence Pugh). Allison’s engagement to Daniel’s son Nathan (Chinaza Uche) ended when his sister Molly (Nichelle Hines) was killed in an accident while Allison was driving. After strong emotions drive everyone apart, Daniel and Allison reconnect, leading to a friendship that helps both of them move on with their lives.
The movie costars Celeste O’Connner as Ryan, Daniel’s granddaughter who he’s now responsible for raising, Molly Shannon as Allison’s mother and Zoe Lister-Jones as Simone, the woman who runs the AA meeting where Daniel and Allison come back into contact.
Let’s take a look at the campaign that’s been run.
announcement and casting
MGM was reported to be interested in acquiring the film in March, 2021, a month or so after it was announced.
Freeman and Pugh were among the first cast members announced, with Shannon joining them in September of that year. Lister-Jones and Uche were added in October.
the marketing campaign
The story is recapped nicely in the trailer (921,000 YouTube plays), released toward the end of December. We see the “before” times, when Allison was about to join Daniel’s family, including how she was friends with Molly while engaged to Nathan. After the accident Allison spirals into addiction until she finds herself at the same AA meeting as Daniel. The two begin a tentative friendship as they help each other deal with lives that are very different than how they once thought they’d have.
“Sometimes we find hope where we least expect it” reads the copy on the poster that came out at the same time. That’s a fairly straightforward line but the photos that accompany it are a bit odd as we see Daniel staring off into the middle distance alongside Allison riding her bicycle. It certainly shows the two stars, but the copy does most of the lifting in terms of communicating anything about the story.
A profile of Pugh focused a lot on her personal life and personality but also included some talk about this movie, with Braff weighing in on how he wrote the part of Allison especially for her after they had been in a romantic relationship.
There was also an interview with Braff where he talked about the personal nature of the story, why he wanted to work with Pugh and Freeman and more.
Things went quiet until early March when a featurette was released that has Braff and the main cast talking about the story, the characters and more.
Braff and Pugh appeared at the London premiere a couple weeks ago and both talked about working together, the appreciation they have of each other’s talents and how emotionally-draining filming the story could sometimes be.
The first clip features Allison playing piano at a party before the tragedy that impacts the rest of the story.
Later clips show Allison cutting her own hair at the depths of her despair
Pugh promoted the film and talked about working with Braff and Shannon on “The Tonight Show”. Braff covered the same ground as earlier conversations in an “Entertainment Tonight” segment.
A couple initial thoughts:
- I know people run hot or cold on Braff, but it’s hard to deny he seems to work hard on the stories he feels motivated to tell. Whatever issues people have – and some are absolutely legitimate – Braff has carved out a nice little niche for himself as a writer/director that seems more notable than his acting gigs.
- It’s too bad that we have to talk so much about Pugh’s backstory, especially all the turmoil involved with Don’t Worry Darling. Even if it isn’t addressed directly, so much of the framing of profiles of the actor wink at it, which detracts from everything else going on.
With those out of the way, the campaign is a little uneven (especially that poster) but overall very nice in a warm and slightly funny way, which is on-brand for Braff as a filmmaker. It surely won’t make much of a dent in John Wick: Chapter 4’s expected box-office domination, but should effectively reach the kind of people who enjoy this type of movie.