Director: Rodrigo Garcia
Starring: Glenn Close and Mila Kunis
Cinematographer: Igor Jadue-Lillo
Minor spoilers included.
Addiction is a disease that affects many people and families around the world. And when it comes to depicting this onscreen, Hollywood has had its fair share of capturing the devastation that comes along with drug dependence. Films like Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 1996), Requiem for a Dream (Darren Aronofsky, 2000), and Slamdance hit Cat Sticks (Ronney Sen, 2018) showcase the raw reality of pursuing a perpetual high. What these films have in common is how they strongly display the effects addiction has on its victims [and loved ones] in honest and gut wrenching ways.
During this year’s Sundance circuit, director Rodrigo Garcia hoped to join the likes of the aforementioned by presenting an honest study of such a disease while simultaneously exploring the effect on a mother-daughter relationship. But with Four Good Days, the feature struggles to leave a lasting impression or offer a new perspective within the long history of drug addiction-related films.
The story follows Deb (Glenn Close) as she gets a sudden visit from her heroin-addict daughter Molly (Mila Kunis). After a decade of fighting her addictions and failing detox programs, Molly promises that she’s ready to leave this life behind. After refusing to give Molly another chance for redemption, Deb finally gives in to the daughter she hopes is still there deep inside, even after Molly has repeatedly stolen from the family and left them devastated every time.
Stories centered around drug dependency have a way of inspiring directors to show the unrelenting truth and disturbing consequences. But none of what we see in Four Good Days is particularly shocking if you’ve seen many films centered around this topic. In fact, we never actually see Molly partake in drug use- perhaps in good taste by the director. But as a result, there’s nothing this film says or contains that makes it stand out from the rest.
Alternatively, the film concentrates on Deb and Molly’s reconnecting relationship, which is where the film truly succeeds. Glenn Close, who plays Deb, doesn’t ever seem to do any wrong, and she certainly doesn’t here. Her relentless belief in Molly is inspiring and shows how deep a mother’s love is willing to go. Mila, on the other hand, seems to be holding back, yet gives a convincing enough performance to capture her characters struggles.
One of the more interesting approaches the story takes to find Molly a way out of her addiction is through a shot that would numb any high she’d feel from drugs. But if taken with drugs in her system, Molly’s life would be left with dire consequences. The film certainly makes a point to highlight the importance of this concept- a shot on a clean system. But predictably, we know that’s exactly where the script is leading towards. Not only that, the film refuses to show actual consequences it so desperately hammered home to its audiences. There’s no surgery, no test results, nothing- at least on screen. It makes everything leading up to that moment feel empty because we just don’t see what led Molly down that path of relapse.
Though deplete of consequence and full emotion, there are some positives in Four Good Days such as the acting and rebirth of a mother-daughter relationship. But if you’re looking for a script that refuses to settle for the banal and pushes the boundaries in representing addiction, there are plenty of better films.