Directed by Rodrigo Garcia
Written by Eli Saslow & Rodrigo Garcia
Coming off Glenn Close’s iconic “Da Butt” performance last Sunday on the Oscars telecast, she returns to the grind, still searching for that first Academy Award to recognize her indelible impact on the history of cinema with a stellar career. Of course, the Oscar is not a lifetime achievement, though we all know those types have been given in the past for actor’s not best performances, so perhaps there is still hope for Glenn. And I don’t knock her for continuing to pursue the achievement. She is dedicated to her craft and we are frankly very lucky to have her on our screens. With Four Good Days she gets into another film which, on its surface, seems well suited as potential Oscar bait performance opportunity. But after viewing this film, I’m certain this is Glenn Close choosing stories she feels are important to tell and represent.
Deb (Glenn Close) wakes up one morning to find her lost, drug addicted daughter knocking on her door. Molly (Mila Kunis) has come in and out of her mother’s life, spending a week here and there getting clean only long enough to steal something of value from her to be able to buy her next high. But this time, with decayed teeth and all, Molly is dedicated to getting clean, she promises her mother so that she’ll let her in the house. As a mother, Deb is skeptical, but helps check Molly into a detox clinic for three days, and look after her the week after while they wait for a new medical miracle, a shot which stops narcotics from making her feel the high. The catch is she has to be clean, with no drugs in her system, in order to receive the shot. So the question becomes can Molly and Deb survive each other for long enough to get the shot, and can Molly stay clean for that long?
The opioid epidemic and drug crisis in this county is very real, with countless individuals and families affected by it, so in that sense, this is a very real and important story to tell about the need for support through these addictions and life changing, and often life ending experiences. It’s not an easy subject to tackle, and I’m sure is extremely personal to many, but showing that addiction truly is a disease and not a choice, and the importance of support by loved ones through these times is a noble task by writer/director Rodrigo Garcia and all those involved in the film. And Glenn Close and Mila Kunis are up to the task, delivering convincing and heartfelt performances in the lead roles here. Their heart is clearly in it, with intimate moments between the two characters being far and away the most authentic and real thing about the film. When the actors in the film get a chance to really connect, it flourishes.
However, those moments don’t come around all too often, and are usually surrounded by rather poor dialogue and plotting. The film feels very staged and scripted as a result, robbing it of the authenticity the actors bring to the screen. This is a shame, because this story is worthy of being told, and in this particular instance the story is based on a real life mother and daughter who had to go through this struggle together. In the film, Molly has been in and out of detox/rehab 14+ times, relapsing each time. It’s just gutting. I’m not sure the film fully captures that shock and heartbreaking reality on its surface, leaning too heavily on the viewers natural sympathy instead of working to establish genuine connection with the story and characters to earn that. And look, in a story like this, it doesn’t need to earn anything from me, I’m sympathetic from the start, but from a craft perspective, the film is lacking in its ability to be convincing and heartfelt. Luckily, we have a great cast, which also includes a small supporting turn from beloved character actor Stephen Root. They help us through this tough watch and rough around the edges production to at least make it a worthwhile sit.