Film Review: Four Good Days
Four Good Days
Director: Rodrigo Garcia
Oakhurst Entertainment and Productivity Media
In Theaters 04.30
There was a point halfway through Four Good Days when I actually had a panic attack, worrying that Glenn Close would never win an Oscar. There are two reasons why this idea upsets me so much. The first is that she’s one of the all-time greats, and it infuriates me that sexism in the industry says that we should place a higher priority on getting Leonardo DiCaprio his long-awaited Oscar when Close, a contemporary of De Niro and Pacino, still can’t seem to nab hers. The other is that I really don’t want to sit through anymore films that place her desperation for that acknowledgment ahead of just being a good film.
Four Good Good Days is based on a true story by Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post writer Eli Saslow, and centers around Molly (Mila Kunis, That 70’s Show, Black Swan), a 31-year-old who begs her estranged mother Deb (Close) for help fighting a fierce battle against the demons that have derailed her life. But when a doctor suggests a toxin that would make Molly’s body refuse further toxins, effectively staving off the ability to get high for a month, both Deb and Molly find the idea promising. But in order to get the shot, Molly must stay completely clean for four straight days. Despite all she has learned over a decade of disappointment, grief and rage, Deb throws herself into one last attempt to save her beloved daughter from the deadly and merciless grip of heroin addiction.
Director Rodrigo Garcia (In Treatment, Albert Nobbs) does capable but uninspired work, but this is an actor-driven film that relies on Close and Kunis, both as a dynamic duo and with plenty of individual scenery-chewing moments for both. And both actresses give good performances. Kunis, emaciated and wearing heavy make-up to make it look like she is wearing no make-up, gets a chance to prove her dramatic acting chops, and Close is characteristically committed and intense. It’s also nice to see Stephen Root (News Radio, O Brother, Where Art Thou?) paying against type as Deb’s second husband. I was pretty hooked by the first third of the movie, and when Four Good Days works, it works well.
But after a while, the script by Garcia and Saslow started to get on my nerves between its on-the-nose dialogue and constant speechifying, and it becomes more about histrionics and melodrama than anything else. It reaches a point where it feels like it’s going down a checklist of anti-drug platitudes making sure that it fits all of them—and I do mean all of them—in. If I had to watch one more scene wherein Close blew up at a doctor or nurse, declaring that “it’s you people that got her hooked on this stuff!” I was going to lose it.
It really doesn’t help things that we already saw Close play the tough-as-nails mother of a drug-addicted daughter just last fall in Hillbilly Elegy, a role that earned her both Oscar and Razzie nominations. By the end, it has all become so irritatingly predictable and phony that I found myself resenting how invested I’d felt at one point rather than giving the film credit for pulling me in. I felt like I’d done my part and that the movie let me down. Four Good Days is a great premise that pairs two gifted actresses in showy roles in order to make a serviceable but incredibly average movie. And I’m afraid we’ll keep going in the endless cycle of watching Close doing this again and again, going for attention and buzz instead of quality, for years to come. –Patrick Gibbs