Based on a Washington Post article by Eli Saslow, inspired by Amanda Wendler and Libby Alexander, “Four Good Days” (Vertical) is a harrowing look at heroin addiction, and by extension the opioid crisis, and the toll it takes on a family.
Molly (Mila Kunis), 31, is no longer welcome in the home of her mother Deb (Glenn Close) and Deb’s second husband Chris (Stephen Root) after she stole things from the house and sold them to buy drugs. She’s not welcome, that is, until she’s clean. Molly claims to be done with drugs, and her junkie boyfriend, but Deb says she’s “heard this speech for 10 years.”
Molly insists she wants to detox (she doesn’t really) and Deb brings her to the same facility that Molly has been to 14 (!) times. A rehab doc levels with Molly and Deb that because heroin’s relapse rate is 97%, after 15 times, the likelihood of Molly relapsing is greater than before.
Deb blames Molly’s addiction on the Oxy prescription she was given when she sprained her ankle at 17, and that she was never denied a refill. The doctor says that if Molly can stay clean for a week, she’s eligible for an opiate antagonist shot. It’s not a magic bullet and Molly still has to go through recovery. And, if Molly uses again before getting the shot, there are serious side effects.
After the three days in the facility that are paid for by Medicaid, Molly returns to Deb and Chris’ house. First, there’s a visit to the dentist for a denture fitting as most of Molly’s teeth are gone. In her old room, she comes face-to-face with the consequences of her behavior. She has no perfume or jewelry because she sold or pawned it for drug money.
For the next few days, we watch Deb, Molly and Chris try to co-exist. A visit from Sean (Joshua Leonard), Molly’s ex, gives her a chance to see her son and daughter because he has custody. Deb and Molly alternated between affection and antagonism. There are numerous uncomfortable scenes, including one where Molly speaks to a high school class about drug addiction. A scene where Molly discovers that a guy she dated in high school has transitioned and is now a successful realtor is handled with relative sensitivity.
Throughout the threat of Molly’s relapse dangles over the movie like an anvil on a string. As the conclusion draws near, you could almost predict what was going to happen. On the other hand, the movie does have a few surprises along the way.
However, is it possible that Glenn Close’s best recent performance was not her cartoonish Oscar-nominated role in the hideous “Hillbilly Elegy,” but when she learned the facts of her ancestry on the Henry Louis Gates Jr. program “Finding Your Roots”? In “Four Good Days” she hungrily devours the scenery. Like a Lifetime movie with foul language, “Four Good Days” features one good performance and that’s the one given by Kunis who demonstrates she’s capable of serious dramatic acting.
Screen Savor is a weekly column from SFGN’s film critic Gregg Shapiro. Shapiro is an entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in regional LGBT and mainstream media outlets. Shapiro is the author of seven books including the 2019 chapbooks, Sunshine State and More Poems About Buildings and Food. Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.