Deb (Glenn Close) is cleaning up the kitchen one night when she hears a knock at the door. When she opens it, her daughter Molly (Mila Kunis) is standing there, begging to be allowed in. But Deb refuses, because Molly is a heroin/Vicodin/meth addict, and whenever she’s allowed back into Deb’s life, Molly steals from her, pawns her jewelry, and lies to her repeatedly. So Deb closes the door. It’s not that she’s uncaring, it’s that she’s been through this hell over and over for years.
If you’ve ever seen a movie before, you know those actions won’t stand. After all, the movie’s title is “Four Good Days,” not “Four Good Minutes.” Deb is going to let Molly in and her life is going to be disrupted yet again. But because she’s been through this many times, Deb takes Molly directly to a local rehab clinic, where she can stay for three days for free while trying to kick her habit. After that, the meter will be running and someone will have to pay the tab.
At the clinic, a doctor tells them that Molly could be helped by an injection that will prevent her system from processing opiods — but she has to be completely clean. If she has any drugs in her system, her body will react violently. With that prospect, and the inability to pay for Molly to stay in the rehab clinic any longer, Deb agrees to let her move back into the house so she can detox and last four more days.
The rest of the movie plays out exactly as you’d expect without any significant plot pivots or surprises. But there were parts that had me scratching my head, like one incident late in the movie as Deb and Molly are leaving a doctor’s office. Something bad happens, but instead of going right back into the medical facility they’ve just walked out of, they drive several miles to a hospital emergency room. Why? So Close can have a mother-yelling-at-a-nurse-to-take-care-of-her-daughter scene akin to the one Shirley MacLaine made famous in “Terms Of Endearment.”
Close — sporting a Patti LuPone wig and a consistently fretful visage — also gets to rail against the medical establishment because Molly’s addiction started when she was 17 and sprained her knee while skiing. The doctor gave her a prescription for OxyContin and things went downhill from there. While Deb is wary of whether Molly is really committed to recovery, she still also enables her daughter’s bad choices more than she should.
The makeup people did a good job making Kunis look sallow, with rotted teeth and the undeniable facial pockmarks of an addict. Kunis also must have lost several pounds because, though she was never a large woman, she’s positively rail-thin, almost skeletal, as Molly. She has one standout scene in which she’s asked to speak to a high school class about what it’s like to be an addict. When challenged by a student who tells her she should just stop giving in to the drugs, Kunis responds with a strong speech about how she’s told herself that every single day, but the addiction has been stronger than her will power.
Writer/director Rodrigo García deserves credit for that scene, but also blame for the predictable material that makes up too much of “Four Good Days.” The movie rises above the level of a Lifetime movie because of the power of its two leading women, but not enough to make it a must-see.
I give “Four Good Days” a 6 on a scale of 10.
Opens today in theaters, with no streaming plans announced.