Four Good Days? That is a pipe dream for Molly (Mila Kunis), a 31-year-old mother of two who has been addicted to every single hard drug—including heroin—since the age of 17. One could understand why, after failed attempts of rehabilitation, her mother, Deb (Glenn Close) is dead inside when Molly returns at her doorstep asking for a place to stay. She can’t let her in again and put her life and her husband’s Chris’ (Stephen Root) in chaos. But she can’t stand idle as Molly sleeps outside of her home, either.
Deb wants to see Molly kick her drug demons and is willing to put her back into detox one last time to do so. As could be expected, the first few days are rough on Molly. Though, light is at the end of the tunnel in a routine shot that will curb Molly’s heroin addiction. The kicker is, she can only receive this shot after eight full days of drug-free activity. Her hospital rehab stay ends at four days, and she must spend the last four in the confines of Deb’s home, around the same environment that has continuously tainted her. Obviously, this will not be easy.
No one is saying that all addiction movies are unnecessary or non-impactful. Look at Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream, two quite different but very strong films. However, as heart-wrenching and agonizing seeing and experiencing addiction is in real life, the cyclical nature of it doesn’t exactly lend itself to a watch that sticks in one’s craw. That is part of the summation of Four Good Days.
The film is both directed and written (alongside Eli Saslow who wrote the source material article in the Washington Post) by Rodrigo García, a longtime veteran of directing television including In Treatment and Six Feet Under. Four Good Days is not his first rodeo doing a film, but it would be easy to see this on the ‘ol Lifetime network. There is nothing garish or lazy; it just has that style, lighting, and even locale (why does it feel like so many of these films take place in suburbia California?) befitting of something on television. I hate using stale clichés when giving thoughts on features, but this is very “paint by numbers,” from those aforementioned production pieces to a score composed by Edward Shearmur that is totally functional and forgettable.
As suggested earlier and seen in drug addiction movies, as heavy and seemingly rich in content they would appear to be, there isn’t actually much in the way of storytelling especially when working from events inspired by real events or fully based on a true story. Similar to Ben is Back and Beautiful Boy, Four Good Days is mainly built around the “will they or won’t they fall back into addiction? question. Some overt commentary around the hospital’s role in creating addicts exists and more subtle commentary around the impact an AWOL parent can have on a teenager, but these merely support the lead question. García and co. do not make us numb to the story, but it is hard to get fully invested in it per the structure of the movie only because we know that there will be consistent fake outs and trip-ups before the endgame.
All said, Four Good Days isn’t entirely forgettable—and worthy of a view—mostly due to its acting work. This is likely a career best for Kunis who throws her all into the role, a transformation that exceeds surface level. She is the holder of the film’s strongest emotional moment which sees Molly talk open and raw about her personal descent into drug-laced hell at her old high school. Close is Close, a top-notch veteran who carries repetitive material to a level better than it would have been in a lesser thespian’s hands. The same can be said for Root, a clear background player who makes the most of limited screen time when called upon.
Four Good Days has been released in an awkward spot post Academy Awards, where it seemingly exists for little outside of awards accolades but much too far away to stay on the radar for next year’s award season. If anything, Four Good Days is a strong suggestion that Kunis—moreso known for comedy work removing Black Swan—has a second career phase in her that can see her reach new heights with the right vehicle.
Photo credits go to impawards.com, deadline.com, and hitc.com.
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