(2021) (Mila Kunis, Glenn Close) (R)
- QUICK TAKE:
- Drama: A mother reluctantly agrees yet again to try to help her thirty-something daughter kick her heroin addiction.
Molly (MILA KUNIS) is a 31-year-old drug addict who's spent the past decade claiming to want to go clean only to relapse. She's once again arrived on the doorstep of her mom, Deb (GLENN CLOSE), and new stepdad, Chris (STEPHEN ROOT), but Deb wants no part of helping her, having gone down that road to disappointment too many times.
But with Molly in bad shape and not leaving the yard, and with her wanting to see her two kids that she has with her ex-husband, Sean (JOSHUA LEONARD), Deb relents and takes her daughter to a rehab facility where she can only stay for a few days. But the doctor there informs her of a new drug that could finally help her kick the habit, but she needs to be clean for a week to take it.
Accordingly, Deb reluctantly agrees to allow Molly to stay with her for several days, constantly worried that she's going to relapse and thus ruin what might be her last chance. As they try to make that work, past wounds resurface, including about Deb abandoning her first husband, Dale (SAM HENNINGS), and Molly when she was a teenager.
- OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
According to the federal website drugabuse.gov, "In 2019, nearly 50,000 people in the United States died from opioid-involved overdoses. The misuse of and addiction to opioids-including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl-is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total "economic burden" of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year."
The new drama "Four Good Days" focuses on just that, narrowed down to the effects it has on one family. Inspired by the real-life story of 31-year-old addict Amanda Wendler and her mother Libby Alexander (as detailed in the 2016 Washington Post article "How's Amanda? A Story of Truth, Lies and an American Addiction" by Eli Saslow), the film fictionalizes the pair as they hope to make their way through the titular period.
In this offering from director Rodrigo García who co-wrote the screenplay with Saslow, the film revolves around Molly (Mila Kunis, more than convincingly appearing strung-out) who arrives on the doorstep of her mother, Deb (Glenn Close), once again asking for help to go clean. Having been down this road of broken promises and disappointment too many times over the past decade, Deb refuses to help until Molly gets clean herself, leaving them at somewhat of an impasse.
Despite the tough love stance, mom eventually relents -- telling her daughter that the one thing more relentless than heroin is her -- and gets her into treatment. But the rehab facility can only keep her for a few days, and needing to be clean for a week to receive a monthly shot that might finally do the trick and break the habit, Molly moves back in with her mom -- and stepdad (Stephen Root) -- with the tension, sparks, finger-pointing, guilt and more soon following.
The film not only examines the hellacious grip that heroin has on its users and the related fallout from that, but also the causes of such addiction. That ranges from doctors prescribing painkillers that get people hooked to the overall nature vs. nurture debate of why some people become more easily addicted than others.
Featuring strong performances from Kunis and Close, the pic's primary downfall is that we've seen this sort of tale countless times before and nothing new is offered in terms of how the story plays out. There's also the matter that it sort of feels like an R-rated version of the old afterschool specials that focused on social ills, and that at times it precariously borders on melodrama.
None of that's enough to derail the film, but it certainly impacts its ability to emotionally engage the viewer. Granted, I have no personal experience with addiction so user reactions might vary for those who do, but I found myself passively watching the characters and their story unfold without feeling sad, angry, or pretty much any other emotion. And because of that, "Four Good Days" rates as a middle of the road 5 out of 10.
Reviewed April 25, 2021 / Posted April 30, 2021
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