Rated R for drug addiction, language, and implied sexuality. It's a pretty bleak film full of detoxing and horrible drug stuff. The movie is meant to both shock and inspire you, which may actually get a bit tedious at times. But this isn't the time to write about this. Know it has shocking content. R.
DIRECTOR: Rodrigo Garcia
Look at me! If I can get his thing done by the end of the day, I'll be so happy. It's weird that I think I can get three of these things knocked out in one day. Sure, it will affect the quality of my writing. Also, I'm setting my goals way too high for any good to come of it. But the Academy Awards are this weekend and I get such a kick out of knowing that my blog has been updated with the nominations.
My favorite time with my wife is the time between the Academy Award nominations and the actual Academy Awards. We've created a bit of a tradition of trying to watch as many as we can before the actual ceremony. It's given us a sense of investment when we watch the presentation because we actually have strong opinions on everything. But even I feel pushy when we watch an entire film for "Best Original Song." Sometimes, these movies are instrumental (pun intended) to the film as a whole. [See Encanto.] But, as if often the case, someone wrote a thematically appropriate song to go over the end credits. These are the movies that I feel bad for watching with my wife. But guess what? I'll watch it, especially if it is free on a streaming service. (Note: I understand that streaming services aren't free, but I don't think of the price per viewing.) For a hot second, I wondered why Four Good Days was only nominated for Best Original Song. But then about fifteen minutes in, I realized why.
There's something remarkably immature about Four Good Days. When I was in a playwriting class, I wrote what I thought was heavy and edgy. Man, I was going to change the world. But I learned that great writing and storytelling has an edginess that just happens. It isn't the point. It's a thing that manifests itself. Some of the greatest stories have absolutely no edginess. That's impressive. Four Good Days wants so much that comes across as sophomoric.
From the perspective of Glenn Close and Mila Kunis, I can see why this movie would seem appealing. It's borderline an opportunity for an acting class. And I'll say, both Glenn Close and Mila Kunis do a solid job with what they are doing. There's no complaints about their final performance. But it's all an acting exercise. The film mostly is a two-hander. Two characters who have a relationship need something very tangible from the other. The intentions are extremely clear. Heck, there's nothing abstract about that relationship. Molly needs her mother to save her. Deb needs Molly to give up drugs. Neither one should budge and that creates tension. Okay, that's honestly introduction to acting. Unfortunately, that also means that there is little left beneath the surface. The characters are always saying what they mean. Rather than let us interpret the performances, it's all spelled out. From an audience's perspective, it means that there is less for us to do. It's fun to unpack things and find the themes of a story. But when everything is right there on the surface, the audience is relegated to the role of spectator. Tell your addiction story, little movie and I'll applaud the performances. That's pretty unsatisfying.
But I keep going back to the notion of childishness. I get that this is based on a true story. There's nothing shocking about this because the addiction narrative has been told so many times. There's a reason why this kind of thing is used for acting classes. But the movie almost becomes about the addiction and not the characters. There's nothing that separates Four Good Days from other movies about the same thing. Everything in this is setting. Heck, the movie is actually named after the time span that this movie takes over. But addiction should be the starting point, not the ending point for the film. It's almost like someone wanted to make this drug film, researched what addiction looked like, and included every element of research. That's not storytelling. It's actively bad. It feels like an ABC Afterschool Special. This is coming from a straight edge guy who will never ever do drugs. It is just that preachy.
And the funny thing is that the song isn't that good. Sure, I'm not into country. But it's super forgettable. The one thing that brought attention to this film that should have fallen through the cracks is something that is mediocre. What you are left with is Mila Kunis and Glenn Close acting their faces off and that's it. This almost feels like it was fundraised by a Megachurch and then released on Hulu. Why is this a movie?
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.