April 30th, 2021
MOVIE: FOUR GOOD DAYS
STARRING: GLENN CLOSE, MILA KUNIS, STEPHEN ROOT, CARLA GALLO
DIRECTED BY: RODRIGO GARCIA
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
There have been plenty of movies recently that deal with the painful reality of substance abuse, from Beautiful Boy, Ben is Back, and Hillbilly Elegy. Within each of them there’s a tearing down of a well known actor, removing their makeup, adding makeup to make them look ragged and beaten down by the addiction that has taken them over. In Four Good Days the actor given the privilege to do this is Mila Kunis, playing a woman that has a terrible heroin addiction, and leaning on her mother (Glenn Close) for one more chance at getting herself clean. Four Good Days hits similar beats to other films about addiction, a battle between family for a loved one’s survival, robust dramatic moments, and performances with large chunks of dialogue. In Four Good Days it’s not always pretty, but the emotions are real enough to make an impact.
One of the major factors dragging Four Good Days down is the casting, where at no point could it ever be convincing that Glenn Close and Mila Kunis could be related. I was never entirely able to get over that, but what helps director Rodrigo Garcia’s film, co-written by Garcia and Eli Saslow, is that the performances are good. Kunis plays Molly and we’re introduced to her in the middle of the night, pounding on the door of her mother Deb (Close) and husband Chris (Stephen Root), desperately looking for a second chance. Only this isn’t Molly’s second chance, it’s more like her fifteenth. Her skin is all broken, her hair clumpy, her clothes dirty, and she’s lost all of her top teeth. This is a person that has lost to the addiction and her mother must fight her own battle, between helping her own child, or letting go so she can do it on her own. Four Good Days is a view into a mother giving it one last try to save her child’s life.
A funny part about Four Good Days is how recently it arrives after Glenn Close’s Oscar nominated performance in Hillbilly Elegy. Although those movies are similar in nature, about middle-to-lower class white families hurt by the opioid epidemic, it’s Four Good Days that has a genuine approach to the subject matter. The acting isn’t over the top, the script isn’t constructed with line after line that can be put into an actors highlight reel, and there’s a much more simple approach about these characters finding redemption. Glenn Close is relatively good in everything, but her performance here is arguably some of her best, because it won’t get the notice it deserves, and she plays her conflicted character beats just right.
The motion in the narrative is generated by the growth of Molly in her addictive struggles. She sweats in bed, Deb and Molly argue over their ability to trust one another, she is granted a visit by her children that she lost long ago. After her stint in a detox facility, her doctor reveals there is a new shot to help reduce dopamine spikes and help suppress her addiction. This is where the narrative turns into a race for Molly and her mother to survive four days without succumbing to her need for drugs. It’s highlighted with moments of emotional struggle and back and forth of Kunis and Close showing their acting skills.
Even through all of this, Four Good Days is not doing a lot outside of what one should expect. It’s not breaking new boundaries on addiction dramas and restating that yes, addiction is an awful epidemic that cripples families. If the casting choices weren’t so odd the final result might be even better. The ending is a bit shocking, a bit wild, and doesn’t fully work, but at least it swings for something new. Kunis delivers strong work, by far some of her best stuff since Black Swan, and hopefully a new revival to an acting career that seemed promising long ago. Glenn Close is always good and in this her performance is to acting is what oxygen is to breathing. It’s that professionalism and a sturdy, well written script, that allows Four Good Days to be just enough. If it hits all the emotional buttons, it might make you tear up, or at least have empathy for the addictive struggle that anyone can have.
FOUR GOOD DAYS IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS APRIL 30TH
2 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady