Serving as an acting showcase for both Golden Globe nominee Mila Kunis and Oscar-Winner Glenn Close, Four Good Days is a harrowing addiction drama following in the footsteps of Beautiful Boy and Ben is Back. Director Rodrigo Garcia, who previously worked with Close on Albert Nobbs, clearly knows how to wring a masterful performance from the seasoned actress. Both women play off each other’s energies well, and make for a believable mother/daughter even before we get the smallest sampling of a backstory. Dealing with heroin addiction, it’s not exactly an easy watch, replete with heartbreaking scenes of withdrawal and deep-cutting emotional trauma.
Four Good Days starts straight to the point: Molly (Kunis) shows up on the doorstep of her estranged mother, Deb (Close), begging her for help to get clean. This time though, Deb isn’t buying her BS. Molly, who has been addicted for over 10 years (since being prescribed oxy for her knee), has burned every bridge. She’s walked out on her kids, barely involved in their lives as they get older. She’s stolen jewelry, pawned her grandmother’s wedding ring, and even sold her body in the name of heroin. Now, Molly aims to get sober again – 15th time’s the charm! Deb, initially resistant to believing Molly is willing to change, grows hopeful when a doctor proposes something new: an opiate antagonist. This shot, taken once a month, will make you virtually immune to getting high, but there’s a small catch. Molly will need to be clean for a full week, which means 4 more days of sober living back at her reluctant mother’s house. Neither woman realizes the emotional and physical strength they’ll need to make it out the other side.
I don’t think Mila Kunis has ever played a role quite like this one. It’s a complete physical transformation from head to toe, between frazzled hair, rotting teeth and sunken cheeks. The character Molly could have been frustrating or easy to hate, but Kunis brings something extra to her role. Underneath all the makeup, her onscreen charisma serves to reflect Molly’s innate good nature hiding just below the surface. It’s a delicate balancing act of enormous inner turmoil that Kunis fills ferociously. An honest and raw speech at the school is one of the emotional high points, epitomizing the sad realities of being an addict: “I fail myself every single day.” Mila Kunis has never been better.
Glenn Close is just as game as Kunis, and arguably, she emerges as the true lead of the film. After being burned by Molly over and over again, Deb is understandably cautious and unsure as to whether Molly is actually serious about getting sober. Molly is on her mind at all times. At a lunch date with her other daughter, Deb realizes she forgot her money at home and ends up abruptly leaving because she’s so concerned about Molly getting into it. Close exudes anger and frustration in bubbling moments of intensity. Deb isn’t perfect either, abandoning Molly and her sister when they were younger and barely present through some of the most important moments. The relationship between Molly and Deb is beautifully detailed as the film progresses. Through every car ride and each locale traversed together, you get a true sense of their bond. They have both been hurt, but there’s an immense sense of love and connection that’s palpable.
The road to recovery is never an easy one, and I did feel that the coda in Four Good Days served to slightly diminish the neverending struggles. The feverish emotional highs of the final act don’t align with the decidedly different tone of the ending. Despite this, I really enjoyed Four Good Days. It’s two phenomenal actresses at the top of their game, spouting dialogue that showcases their strengths. Observing the horrors through the lens of both mother and daughter allows the viewer to see the impact of addiction on both parties. The universal themes of acceptance, love, understanding, and especially forgiveness will mean a lot to people who have lost a loved one to addiction. It’s a terrible disease, and there is no cure once you’re hooked. Heroin itself has a 97% relapse rate, perpetuating an endless circle of drug use.
Four Good Days comes to theaters in limited release on April 30th, followed by VOD on May 21st.