The serious nature of “Four Good Days” is set in the opening scene when a mother is shocked to see her daughter on the doorstep and refuses to let her in.
The Sundance Film Festival entry by director Rodrigo Garcia, stars Glenn Close as the mother, Deb, and Mila Kunis as daughter, Molly. It is immediately obvious why Molly is refused entry, as it is clear that she’s a junkie (hooked on heroin and many other things it turns out). It is also the lynchpin of the script — the love and struggles of a mom and daughter in the face of extreme adversity and what specifically drew Garcia to make the film.
“It’s the kind of problem that always fascinates me, the problem with no solution,” Garcia said during a post-screening Q&A following the film’s debut Friday at the Eccles Theatre. “Do you abandon your child or do you perhaps become an enabler? You know, mothers and daughters, there’s a lot there, even without addiction. It looked very fertile.”
Being a mother herself, Close didn’t have to go too far to tap into the perspective she needed for her character.
“The feelings you have as a mother, you want your child to be safe and you want your child to be healthy,” Close said. “And I was fascinated because the first scene was a mother locking her door to her daughter, and that began my real exploration into how somebody could do that. And when you think of the years of being in and out of rehab, and you’re told they have to reach the bottom before they have a chance at recovery. How many times do you go through it? I think a mother never gives up. And I think maybe that’s her weakness and that’s her strength. I don’t think there’s an easy answer for it. But for me it was just putting myself in that situation, trying to imagine in each scene what the reality was — just what the simple reality was.”
Chemistry was clearly a key component to the dynamic relationship between the Deb and Molly characters. According to Kunis, that is something that can’t be faked.
“I love Glenn Close,” Kunis said. “I’ve said this for years, you can’t fake chemistry. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a roll of the dice, and you work with people, and you show up to work every day, and it’s a little bit harder and you have to work at it a little bit more, and you have to cultivate moments. I got incredibly lucky with Glenn, and so I’m fortunate. But no, I barely worked!”
The script was based off a story by Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow, credited in the movie as a co-writer, about the challenges of addiction battles and attempted recovery by real-life mother and daughter, Libby Alexander and Amanda Wendler.
“I read the article that Eli Saslow wrote for the Washington Post,” Garcia said. “It was both a wonderful and vast portrait of the epidemic, but also a very specific microcosm of a mother and daughter and their dynamic, not beyond the addiction, but heightened by the addiction. What made her want to be clean this time as opposed to the other times?”
Kunis was asked about how she approached playing her character.
“I can give you the answer as to how I took it, and I can give you the answer that I was told by the real Amanda,” Kunis said. “Unfortunately, for the real Amanda, she didn’t stay clean. She ended up relapsing multiple times. So to answer your question, I think you take it day by day and you hope that this one sticks, and in real life it didn’t.
“And then it did,” Garcia interjected.
“And then it did,” Kunis said. “It’s an ugly cycle unfortunately.”
Kunis said her main impetus for accepting the role was Garcia himself.
“I really wanted to work with Rodrigo,” Kunis said. “If you get scripts like this, it’s so dependent on who the director is and who the co-stars are, and it’s always a scary thing you dive into because you think it’s going to be great. And at the end of the day, it really is in Rodrigo’s hands in the edit room and how it all comes together. I’m a huge fan of him. So when the script came back, I love the script, love the character, but there’s still that unattributed factor, well, who’s the director and who’s the co-star? And in this case in was a no-brainer. I was fortunate to be a part of this incredible group. I appreciate Rodrigo trusting me with this.”
Someone asked Kunis if she’d ever tried heroin.
“Me? I’m so lame,” she deadpanned. “No, I’m sorry that I’ve never done heroin.”