DRAMA; 2hr 9min
STARRING: Florence Pugh, Morgan Freeman, Molly Shannon, Celeste O’Connor, Chinaza Uche
High bar: Pugh
Allison and Nathan (Pugh and Uche) are blissed out at their engagement do and perfect together in every way, which life in its indifference couldn’t give a toss about. Happiness has never been a bulwark against catastrophe, and one year later everything is different. Allison is an oxy-addicted wreck living with her well-meaning but helpless mother, Diane (Shannon), whose best advice to her devastated daughter is to “pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”
Meanwhile, equally ill-equipped ex-cop and recovering alcoholic Daniel (Freeman) is attempting to raise his traumatised 16-year-old granddaughter, Ryan (O’Connor), after the car accident that killed her parents while Allison was driving. The trio were on their way to try on wedding dresses — thank you so much, writer-director Zach Braff, for that secondary kick in the butt. Furthermore, not only was Ryan’s mother also Daniel’s daughter, but Nathan is his alienated son. Make it stop!
Every one of these characters is up to their necks in a mother lode of woe that makes perversely compelling viewing, misery loving company as it famously does. This is not to trivialise the knotty landscape of grief, which is no place for the faint-hearted. Evidently not being among their number, Braff and his attuned cast aren’t afraid to set up shop there, with Don’t Worry Darling ’s Pugh especially unflinching in the face of Allison’s pain. Her darkest days make a tough watch, and if the turnaround for all concerned starts to feel distinctly soapy, who but a doom merchant would argue with a chance to make amends?