In theaters April 30
Deb’s (Glenn Close) day is shattered with the banging at her front door and the sound of her daughter’s voice.
Deb’s daughter, Molly (Mila Kunis) is a heroin addict and has been struggling with her addiction for over a decade.
Molly wants to get clean . . . again, but Deb is unmoved — having been robbed and lied to by Molly many times before.
Giving in, Deb and Molly start her detox at a clinic and discover a new monthly shot is available that prevents addicts from getting high — a silver bullet for addicts.
The catch: she must be clean for a full week. Molly needs four good days to be able to get the shot — but those four days are with her mother, a woman she has betrayed and whom she feels has betrayed her
There is still an epidemic raging through this country. It’s not COVID-19
to which I refer.
“Four Good Days” offers a peek into the late stages of addiction. Molly has lied, manipulated and stolen from her parents over the years to thoroughly pulverize their hope and trust in their daughter. Deb is cynical and mistrustful, Molly doesn’t remember much of the things she did to her mother and must believe her mother when she describes the things she’s done. There are alarms on each door. Deb follows Molly ‘s every move, waiting for her to attempt to either get high or steal.
Yet, this fourteenth detox concludes with a new option — an opiate antagonist — in the form of a shot that prevents an addict from getting high.
This story is less about Molly’s addiction and more about the aftermath and underlying roots of addiction. We learn about each character’s struggles, about each one’s flaws and the results that addiction has had on them.
Kunis takes an unglamorous role and does a good job with it. Her Molly is pleading, manipulative and vulnerable. Close also plays a flawed unglamorous character: a woman broken by her daughter’s addiction, broken by a love betrayed.
Where this feature struggles is in the “soft edges” of the writing. This film is more about the emotional stagnation and relationship struggles that result from this dependency, as well as the hurdles of mistrust and fear that grip families. Unfortunately, this film doesn’t quite do enough to stir viewers emotionally. The dangling carrot of a cure-all shot is enough to keep us invested to the end, but the climax is predictable and empty, for it passes over the dark moments of addiction, the real hurt and lost hope, the warring feelings of anger and love, trust and betrayal — leaving audiences with an unsatisfied resolution to a potentially memorable story.
Addiction’s merciless grip on people and their families is a familiar story in contemporary America, and “Four Good Days” chronicles the demons, relapse and recovery that encompasses far too many lives these days.
Unfortunately, the script is overloaded with plenty of blame game, histrionics and melodramatic performances that mar its intentions.
Even though both Mila Kunis, looking as unglamorous as possible, and Glenn Close, in a wretched wig that’s even worse than her hairdo in “Hillbilly Elegy,” muster enough conviction for their roles, there is something disingenuous about this particular storytelling angle.
The abundance of cliches is off-putting as they excuse everything – Molly became addicted to oxycontin while recovering from a broken ankle, she’s been using narcotics for 10 years and has been in rehab 14 times before now. If she can stay clean for four days, she can get Naltrexone, which will block the effects of opiates, as a shot each month.
The actresses do work well together – in a whiplash sort of way – showing how addicts are master manipulators and all the rage involved, on both sides. They barely touch on the guilt, defense mechanisms, enabling and triggers to do the topic justice.
The true story on which the movie is based, from Eli Saslow of the Washington Post, took place in Detroit. They switched the locale to the Riverside area of Southern California, which is not as gritty, nor I suspect as desperate of a setting.
Director Rodrigo Garcia, who collaborated with Saslow on the screenplay, relied too much on stereotypes to tell this story, which is surprising, given that he directed the HBO series “In Treatment.” He worked with Close on her 2011 Oscar-nominated “Albert Nobbs” and before that, an ensemble piece “Things You Can Tell By Just Looking at Her” in 2000.
The versatile character actor Stephen Root is under-utilized as Deb’s second husband Chris, although he has a strong scene with Close in the third act.
Most of the confrontations seem straight out of a “I Want My Kids Back!” themed Lifetime movie, and there is a separation backstory that is not effectively explained. Characters come and go without satisfactory introductions or follow ups.
What the movie does get right is how junkies are master manipulators and serial liars, and how their needs and behaviors suck all the air out of the family, so their loved ones' time and energy is second place.
Then, the climax is rushed, leading to a schmaltzy “very special episode” ending that is followed by an incredibly sappy Diane Warren ballad sung by Reba McIntyre that deflates the whole shebang.
There is a 97% relapse rate with heroin addiction, and somehow, everything’s fine and dandy with the miracle drug – just like that. If only it was as easy as they depict here.