FOUR GOOD DAYS review by Patrick Hendrickson – Glenn Close & Mila Kunis struggle to get clean

FOUR GOOD DAYS review by Patrick Hendrickson – Glenn Close & Mila Kunis struggle to get clean

FOUR GOOD DAYS is an emotionally weighty look at a drug-addicted young woman named Molly, played by Mila Kunis. Molly returns home to her mother and step-father one early morning and claims that she is finally ready to get clean. Her mother, Deb (Glenn Close) is the one who she appeals to most. Deb takes it upon herself to try and aid her daughter one final time despite serious apprehensions.

The titular four good days refer to a waiting period following Molly’s time in a detox center; her 15th time going through this process. Molly and Mom see a doctor after she spends four days in the center and tells them that after four more days she can begin treatment with an “opiate antagonist,” which will mitigate the effects of drug usage. This measure can only be taken after a full week of Molly staying clean. This, in combination with other treatment options such as therapy and twelve-step programs, will give Molly a strong foundation for her recovery.

The relationship between Molly and Deb serves as the primary focus of the film. As such, Kunis and Close carry the entirety of the production. This is true when they are together in scenes and whenever they are apart. The two of them do a magnificent job when working together or when their characters are separated from one another. There truly is not a weak link between the two.

An unfortunate side-effect is that most other characters are left underdeveloped and underutilized. Deb has another daughter who is given one brief scene. Molly has an ex-husband and two kids who are barely present. Even Deb’s current husband (Molly’s stepfather) is rarely seen despite living in the same house as Molly and Deb. The worst example of this would be Molly’s biological father, who is spoken about numerous times but only appears for maybe three to five minutes total.

There are a few day-to-day occurrences that bring the pacing to a halt. An example would be when Molly is first reunited with her daughter and son. Molly joins in on them playing a video game but ends up losing and her son gives her some playful trash-talking. Every character pauses and just watches this moment with blank stares. Presumably, this is intended to communicate the underlying tensions that exist for families going through this particular struggle, but it does not invoke an emotional reaction. It is as if the movie is saying point-blank: this is a moment where Molly might break down, regardless of whether or not that tension is present or not. This might be a shortcoming on the part of the directing or the acting, or both. Either way these moments struggle to bring out the emotions they attempt to reach.

It almost feels as if the filmmakers were lacking in self-confidence. The cardinal rule of filmmaking is “show don’t tell,” but FOUR GOOD DAYS very often chooses to do both. Emotional moments such as Deb getting upset at Molly’s condition or Molly starting to crave drugs are portrayed effectively, but the movie will then follow up with insultingly simple dialogue explaining what has just occurred.

The run time is about an hour and a half, and this is good because the movie starts to fall apart by the end. The lack of confidence this story has for itself becomes overwhelmingly obvious in the final moments. There are two ways a story about addiction can go: recovery or relapse. Unfortunately, FOUR GOOD DAYS attempts to have it both ways for the sake of drama, leading to an unsatisfying and emotionally blank conclusion. The production receives a recommendation despite these flaws mostly due to the wonderful chemistry between Kunis and Close, giving FOUR GOOD DAYS a 4/5

FOUR GOOD DAYS is now playing at the following Dallas/Fort Worth theaters (check listings for your city):

Angelika Film Center – Dallas
Angelika Film Center – Plano
Tinseltown 17
Grapevine Mills 30
Majestic 12
Cinemark North McKinney
Legacy 24
Cinemark Roanoke

Be Sociable, Share!

About the Author