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Review: Close, Kunis effective in addiction drama 'Four Good Days'

Glenn Close stars as a mother trying to keep her daughter (Mila Kunis) off drugs in Rodrigo García's stirring drama

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

There's a scene in 1995's "The Basketball Diaries" where Leondardo DiCaprio, playing junkie street poet Jim Carroll, comes knocking at the door of the apartment of his mother (Lorraine Bracco), begging to be let inside. He's crying, she's crying, he's screaming, she's screaming, and while it's filled with histrionics it's nonetheless a harrowing portrait of the throes of addiction. 

"Four Good Days" never quite reaches those heights, but it's effective in other ways. The story of a mother (Glenn Close) trying to help her daughter (Mila Kunis) kick drugs focuses less on the addiction itself than on the hell it enacts on everyone around it. It's a drug movie for those affected second-hand by the lows of abuse. 

Glenn Close and Mila Kunis in "Four Good Days."

"Four Good Days" opens with a scene not unlike the "Basketball Diaries" scenario described above. Molly (Kunis) shows up at the home of her mother, Deb (Close) and demands to be let indoors. Not this time, Deb tells her. The last time she let her in, Molly robbed her blind, and she's done giving her chances. Molly is covering her mouth while she talks. Deb demands to see her teeth. Molly opens wide, revealing the effects meth had on her once pearly whites. 

Deb denies her entry, and Molly sleeps on the porch. The next morning, Deb promises to help her and checks Molly into a rehab facility. A few days later, a doctor informs Molly that he can inject her with an opiate antagonist that will make her immune to the effects of getting high. All she needs is to do is stay clean for four days, which is far easier said than done.  

Close is reliably great as a mother who has been stretched to her limits again and again, but will still do what she needs to do to help her daughter. That doesn't mean she trusts her, and Close shows the pains and scarring that comes from having to constantly watch her daughter like a hawk. 

Kunis turns in a gritty performance that is against type and mostly rings true, save for a scene of grandstanding where she speaks to a classroom full of students about her addiction. But co-writer and director Rodrigo García (who worked with Close on "Albert Nobbs") knows where to keep his focus and how to frame his story. If it wraps on an ambiguous note, it's because these types of things are never truly over, they can only be taken as they come, a few (hopefully) good days at a time.

'Four Good Days'

GRADE: B

Rated R: for drug content, language throughout and brief sexuality

Running time: 100 minutes

In theaters

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama