What words are there to describe an actor’s performance other than the usual terms of superb, extraordinary, magnificent, masterful, a revelation, outstanding, transformative or Oscar worthy? Well I ask this because as I was watching Ukrainian actress Mila Kunis’ performance in the new drug addiction drama “Four Good Days”, all of those terms come to mind. But even those gracious terms aren’t enough to praise her performance, because it is that good. It’s a hard to beat performance of 2021, that deserves to be an Oscar contender and you too will be blown away by it as you’ve never seen her like this before.
Kunis plays Molly. A mother of two who got hooked on heroin, crack and more pills than you could imagine at the age of 17. The addiction started when a doctor prescribed drugs to Molly to help treat pain resulting from a skiing accident. Molly managed to get clean enough to get married and have kids, but then fell into a relapse and went back to the dark world of drug addiction.
Now broke and alone, Molly turns up looking more than just a hot mess on the doorstep of the quiet suburban home owned by her mother Deb (the legendary Glenn Close) and stepfather Chris (the always terrific Stephen Root). Deb agrees to help and send Molly into yet another detox facility, even though she’s tried going to rehab 14 times before. However insurance covers only three days of the new, doctor recommended week long treatment, so Molly sets out to have four more good days of treatment with her mother by her side, who is not only loyal, but stuck in a very difficult situation as a parent.
“Four Good Days” was screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, is set to open in theaters on April 30th and digital May 21st. Directed by Rodrigo Garcia, who directed Glenn Close to an Oscar nomination in 2011’s “Albert Nobbs” is directing the screen legend in their third collaboration together. Garcia has co-written the script with Washington Post writer and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Eli Saslow. “Four Good Days” is based on a true story and on Saslow’s Washington post column titled: “How’s Amanda? A Story of Truth, Lies and an American Addiction”.
Lending his forty five year expertise as the producer of “Four Good Days”, is one of Hollywood’s most reliable producers and directors Jon Avnet. Best known in having directed “Fried Green Tomatoes”, “Up Close and Personal”, “Red Corner” and “Righteous Kill”. Avnet has been a producer for an unprecedented amount of movies and television, most notably “Risky Business” and “The Mighty Ducks” trilogy.
“Four Good Days” isn’t only a hard hitting drama about the dark depths of drug addiction and the disastrous effects it has not just on the addicted it’s also about the effect it has on the people around them who love them. But it’s also a scathing indictment of drug companies, doctors and the role they play in the ever growing opioid crisis. Director Rodrigo Garcia showcases the heartbreaking effects of addiction in a a searing and realistic way that we haven’t seen on screen since Darren Aronofsky’s 2000 film “Requiem For A Dream”.
Garcia’s film has it’s share of melodrama, but it also can get really in your face with its message and depiction of addiction. Kunis who plays Molly has gone into a complete transformation and her make-up work here is astonishing. Most notably the make-up work in giving the naturally beautiful Kunis, a mouth full of missing teeth with rotting and enflamed gums is especially remarkable. Garcia also goes for the full effect by having her smelling foul from not showering for weeks, giving her dark marks on her face, scarily thin and sporting filthy green and blonde hair. This is what addicts look like when they’re in the thick of it and director Rodrigo Garcia pulls no punches. This is one of the closest depictions to what a heroin addict looks and acts like, outside of what we have seen in documentaries or most famously the A&E series “Intervention”.
Kunis who played Jackie for eight years on the hit Fox sitcom “That 70’s Show” and starred in mostly comedies: “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “The Spy Who Dumped Me”, “Ted” and “Bad Moms”. Has also dabbled in action films a bit with “Max Payne” and “The Book Of Eli”, but she’s never been given an opportunity to stretch her acting chops like she does here.
Mila Kunis’ performance is a complete success and an absolute revelation as real life addict Amanda Wendler (name has been changed to Molly for the film). Kunis more than holds her own, especially considering she is starring opposite the legendary Glenn Close. Kunis, has undergone a physical transformation that best describes her performance as “awards bait”. If she gets overlooked this coming Oscar season, then the Academy has some serious re-evaluating to do.
Then there is the acting legend herself…Glen Close. She is an eight time Oscar nominee and never walked away with a single golden statue. That’s unbelievable if you ask me, but I still say that she got completely robbed at the 2019 Oscars for her role in “The Wife”. We’ll have to see if this, will finally be her year as she is nominated again for Ron Howard’s Netflix film “Hillbilly Elegy”. Like her co-star, Close deserves a nomination for her role in “Four Good Days”.
For me, Glenn Close ranks right up there with the twenty one Oscar nominee Meryl Streep. If Glenn Close isn’t ranked up there with Meryl Streep by now, then it’s about time she gets the respect that she deserves. Glenn and Meryl are two actress that you should never bet against. Close’s performance as Deb is her usual phenomenal self. It’s amazing how just one look from her can say so much about the love, anger, frustration and resentment towards the havoc her daughter has wrecked upon her.
Close and Kunis kills it in their performances and the two actresses expertly explore the mother and daughter dynamic with great chemistry. Their emotions run from love to hate and everything in between. Like he real life interactions between addicts and their parents, we see how some of Deb’s behaviors and actions aren’t always helpful when it comes to Molly’s recovery.
Deb wants for Molly to get better and would do anything to help her, but she’s hesitant as Deb has been played one too many times, including being robbed by Molly and who pawned off her wedding ring. This is just another form of realism that director Rodrigo Garcia brings to the picture and the way that Garcia displays these women in all their pain, anger, happiness and hopefulness is expert filmmaking.
“Four Good Days” will devastate you enough that you will hopefully never consider getting involved with this kind of addiction. Or if you’ve ever known someone who suffered from heroin addiction or battled any type of addiction, then “Four Good Days” will hit uncomfortably close to home. As uncomfortable as the films subject is, the film itself is masterful and features two incredible lead performances that should find both actresses and the film at next years Academy Awards ceremony.
Also keep an ear out for the song over the end credits called Somehow You Do”, written by Diane Warren and sung by Reba McEntire. It adds just the perfect touch to the arduous journey we had just witnessed and could also put the Country icon in the Oscar race next year as well. “Four Good Days” is an Oscar contender and one of 2021’s best films list.
GRADE: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)