Four Good Days
Strong performances in predictable but powerful drug drama.
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Four Good Days
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Four Good Days is a wrenching drama about a woman (Mila Kunis) who asks her mother (Glenn Close) to help her, not for the first time, go through drug detox and recovery. It's based on a 2016 Washington Post feature by writer Eli Saslow. Expect pervasive discussions of drug use and abuse, as well as frequent strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," etc.). There are also disturbing scenes of a woman going through withdrawal and dealing with physical side effects of addiction, including damaged teeth, track marks, and scars. It can be hard to watch, but it also promotes compassion, empathy, and perseverance. Parents and teens who watch can discuss the dangers of drug dependency, as well as the importance of a supportive relationship between parents and children.
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What's the Story?
FOUR GOOD DAYS, based on a Washington Post feature article, follows Molly (Mila Kunis), a woman in her early 30s who's addicted to heroin and meth and begs her mother, Deb (Glenn Close), for help -- for the 14th time -- to get clean. Gaunt and just coming off a high, Molly tries to guilt-trip Deb, but her mom has heard everything before and says she can't see Molly until she's clean. After Molly spends the night outside her childhood home, Deb drives her to an emergency rehab shelter that Medicaid only covers for three nights. On the fourth day, Deb takes Molly to a doctor who believes that Molly is a good candidate for a monthly injection of naltrexone, which blocks opiate receptors in the brain -- but only if she can remain drug free for four more days under the supervision of a non-user. Deb, whose second husband, Chris (Stephen Root), is quiet but skeptical about the situation, reluctantly agrees to bring Molly home with her. Dopesick and depressed, Molly craves drugs every moment, but each day seems to get a little better. She even reunites with the two elementary school-age children she'd lost custody of while using. Cautiously optimistic, Deb hopes that this is the time Molly can finally stay clean.
Is It Any Good?
This is a predictable but powerful drama based on the true story of a mother and daughter struggling to navigate the struggles of addiction, recovery, and forgiveness. Comedy veteran Kunis might not be everyone's first instinct to play the role of an addict trying yet again to get clean, but she's convincing in the part. She's often praised for her beauty, but here that's all covered up by scars, pockmarks, and decaying teeth. She's also believably gaunt. What's not surprising is that Close is every bit as good as you'd expect as Deb, Molly's put-upon and heartbroken mother who wants to help despite remaining wary of her daughter's chances of staying clean.
Despite the stars' excellent acting, the screenplay spends more time exploring the mother-daughter relationship than it does Molly's descent into addiction. Four Good Days doesn't delve into the deeper reasons that Molly turned to drugs after first getting hooked on prescription medicine, and it isn't as effective as similar films (like Ben Is Back) in showing the various ways (besides a few comments about exchanging sex for drugs, stealing, and losing custody of her kids) that substance abuse has impacted not just her life but those of her loved ones. Director Rodrigo Garcia knows how to bring out the nuances in his actors' performances, and audiences looking for a study in acting will be rewarded, even if the movie is a tad formulaic. The United States has a seemingly unceasing opioid crisis, so movies about the fallout of that crisis remain a powerful reminder of just how easily anyone, especially teens, can be susceptible to drug abuse.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the way that drug use/abuse permeates all of Four Good Days, even though actual drug use is only shown a few times. Does that affect the way you perceive addiction? Why, or why not? Are there realistic consequences for substance use?
Do you consider Deb a role model? What character strengths does she display? How are compassion, empathy, and perseverance important to the story?
Deb tells Molly's doctor that a doctor is responsible for addiction. How is this relevant to the United States' opioid crisis? Did you know that more than two-thirds of heroin addicts started off taking opioid painkillers that were legally prescribed for an injury?
What other movies, books, or shows could help you learn more about drug dependency and recovery? How does Four Good Days show you can help a loved one who's dealing with substance abuse? Do you agree with what Deb does at the end of the movie?
- In theaters: April 30, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: May 21, 2021
- Cast: Mila Kunis, Glenn Close, Stephen Root
- Director: Rodrigo Garcia
- Studio: Vertical Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Character Strengths: Compassion, Empathy, Perseverance
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: drug content, language throughout and brief sexuality
- Last updated: October 8, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
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Requiem for a Dream
Shocking, grim addiction saga worth discussing.
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