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“Four Good Days” (2021) –After Ten Bad Years

Inspired by a Pulitzer-Prize winning Washington Post article, Four Good Days tackles the almost insurmountable ordeal of drug withdrawal.  And also confronts  the parent-adult child relationship that fails repeatedly to lead to a successful outcome.

Thirty-year-old Molly (Mila Kunis) is the  damaged and severely addicted daughter who knocks on the door of her mother’s house after ten years of drug addiction. Deb (Glenn Close), her mother, has since remarried  an extremely empathetic man, Chris (Stephen Root), yet has a deeply disturbed past.  Both tormented mother and daughter are bruised, abused, and on the tipping point of collapse.

In a final desperate hope to heal their fragile mother-daughter relationship, Molly  struggles to be accepted into a detox program. Deb struggles with her. This time –after fourteen failed attempts and relapses –a doctor offers a potential cure: a monthly shot of a potent agent that prevents opioids and other toxic drugs  from binding to the central nervous system, and crossing the blood-brain barrier. However, Molly has to be completely drug-free for four days.

The major contribution Four Good Days makes to awareness of the tragic consequences of drug addiction is the aftermath of repeated and sincere attempts at healing.  Vaguely delineated and widely misunderstood, drug rehab is not for the fainthearted:  the brain and the body are under siege and parents also suffer the consequences witnessing their son or daughter’s suffering yet helpless to ensure recovery.  Parents may redouble their efforts in ways that are counterproductive and destructive.

The viewer is pulled in by the theme of drug addiction and recovery:  how difficult, courageous, and inordinately determined a person has to be even to undertake the frightening, excruciatingly painful journey of total abstention from drugs.  The foundational lie is that “one just says no.”

Both Glenn Close and Mila Kunis dance a formidable duet, matching each other beat for beat.  The viewer’s allegiance or sympathy vertiginously switches back and forth as both actors present their characters’ virtues and flaws with emotional and technical prowess.  Glenn Close never disappoints and her performance is, as expected, unforgettable.  Mila Kunis surprises in convincing the viewer of her angry sadness, and how it overwhelms her.

Less convincing is the ending.  Although based upon a true story, the final scenes seem a bit too facile and ridiculously rapid for recovery from over ten years of soul-destroying addiction.  Nonetheless, with that caveat, Four Good Days will hold your interest.

Availability:  Netflix DVD; not streaming.

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