four good days

Coming from a family who has dealt with addiction, this film piqued my interest in seeing what "Four Good Days" had to offer. Starring Glenn Close and Mila Kunis, our story follows a mother and daughter who have to work through four crucial days of recovery. This is due to a new medication for Molly (Kunis) that could reduce the urgency of her addiction. It's the sort of premise that could've been a moving and powerful look at the lengths families will go to fight addiction. The finished product is, unfortunately, nothing more than a melodramatic slog whose talent deserves better.

Films about addiction can either be grounded in realism, steeped in melodrama, or live in a heightened reality. "Four Good Days" takes things down an unfortunately melodramatic road from which it doesn't recover. The film's biggest assets are our two central characters, played by Mila Kunis and Glenn Close. When they are on screen discussing the effects this illness has had on them both, it is quite compelling to watch. That was the case for the first third of the film. It's after the 30-40 minute mark where the film, unfortunately, leans too far into its cliches.

There's just too much speechifying on display here that takes away from the really solid performances. In stories like this, there are so many moments that rely on speeches or big proclamations made by Molly (Kunis) or Deb (Close). It's rather frustrating when you have actors this capable that aren't given material worthy of their abilities. Stories like this don't need moments that focus on a character speaking to another about how they feel. Audiences who go and see a story like this usually have some preconceived ideas about addiction. In the case of a film like this, don't tell us how to feel, but show us. What's unfortunate with "Four Good Days" is that it just doesn't quite understand how to make that moving.

It's the sort of film that goes through the motions of what makes this type of story interesting. As we see Deb and Molly try to make it through these four days, there's a repetitiveness director Robert Garcia is going for. It's noticeable that he wants an audience to live in the darker moments of these characters' struggles. The unfortunate truth is that none of those moments feel real or earned. The focus on these four days never quite impacts us in a way that sticks with us.

On paper, you can see how this cast was drawn into telling such an important story like this, especially since it's based on a story involving the struggles of a real family and real mother and daughter. The unfortunate truth is that there are just too many moments that feel like clips that would play during the Oscars. There are never real moments of honesty in their conversations that allow us to connect with these characters and the people they're portraying. Even with moments that work, they never congeal into an emotionally meaningful package.

"Four Good Days" is a film that has moments that work incredibly well. It's in these moments that you can see the excellent film thanks to the performances. What's unfortunate is the copious amount of speeches that the story compensates and excuses it as "emotional depth." There's certainly never a moment where I was bored but was never as compelling as it could've been. This is especially difficult in no small part due to Glenn Close owning the screen every time she is on it. I wish that each of these characters was given more than just moments of over-expressive emotion.

Rating: 4/10

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