Four Good Days (2020): Glenn Close and Mila Kunis Deliver Dramatic Excellence and Spot on Chemistry

“Four Good Days” is directed by Rodrigo Garcia (The Affair, In Treatment) and stars Glenn Close (The Wife, The Hillbilly Elegy), Mila Kunis (Family Guy, Bad Moms), and Stephen Root (The Man in the High Castle, Get Out) in a film where a mother and daughter reunite after an extended falling out. Molly (Kunis) commits to sobriety and hopes to do so with the help of an “opioid antagonist.” Throughout that time, she lives with her parents and receives assistance from her mother in trying to become clean.

I consider myself to be in a position that makes me feel rather blessed. I come from a family that does not have much of a history when it comes to drug abuse. Sure, I know people who smoke. I know people who drink. I’ll admit I maybe drink a little more soda than I should. But currently, I do not know of any scenario in my family where someone has a serious drug problem that has affected everyone around them, at least none that come to mind. Speaking of keeping things to keep in mind, I want you to keep this in mind because this sort of will have to do with my opinion regarding this film.

I saw this film over a week ago because I was intrigued by a clip I saw on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” during an interview with Mila Kunis, I will not go into everything just yet, but I walked out of the theater feeling floored. Between the performances of the two leads, the directions in which they took the story from point A to point B and so on, and even the notion that this was based on reality, I was amazed by “Four Good Days.”

Then I went to IMDb, and I noticed a bunch of low scores. I then wondered, “Why?”

Now, I am not trying to say that everyone should simply be swayed by what other people say on the Internet, but again, I have little experience when it comes to life involving drugs, which may be a good thing. But I noticed that there are some negative reviews suggesting that this movie would generalize people on drugs. In a way, I can kind of understand that. There is a movie that I refuse to watch to this day, even if it is the greatest film ever made, because of its supposed message regarding the autistic community, specifically Sia’s “Music.” And this involves not just content of the movie itself, but also some behind the scenes work.

Even so, having seen the negative reviews, I wondered if this movie was really as good as I said it was. The answer, yes, it is still great. As a story, this film is a goldmine from start to finish. Yes, it has cliches, and it is slightly predictable depending on what moment we are talking about, but the film succeeds in having me as a viewer root for Molly in order to follow a path to cleanliness. Like, REALLY root for her.

I also want to address Molly’s looks. Now, Mila Kunis is often described as one of the most attractive actresses on the planet. It is honestly ridiculous to consider how great she looks. But in this movie, you can see she’s had slight alterations to her appearance from oddly dyed hair to fake teeth. The movie did do a great job at making me think Mila Kunis was somebody else, because even in her best (non-Family Guy related) performances, I can still see a shade of her every now and then.

This film is based on a true story, which was captured in a newspaper article you can find through the Washington Post. The article, written by Eli Saslow and titled “‘How’s Amanda?’ A story of truth, lies and an American addiction,” is almost the same thing as the movie from start to finish. It shares a lot of the same quotes, events, some of the names almost interlink, but I also noticed that Amanda, at least in the pictures the article provides looks more like a person that really has not deteriorated much over the years. That is compared to Molly, played by Mila Kunis. This is where all the previously mentioned negative reviews come in, and I understand those. This may be the one glaring negative I have about the film, because other than this, “Four Good Days” sucks your soul out in perhaps the greatest way possible. The last time I think I’ve said this about a film was probably “Parasite” because that film is so well done and incomparable because of how dark it can get and how much it can satisfy you despite occasionally having a terrifying turn every step of the way.

One of the other shining positives of “Four Good Days” is the perspective of the parental side of things. I very much enjoyed seeing Glenn Close, who is excellent in this film, question herself on whether she is doing the right thing. Parenting is a difficult task on its own, and this movie takes it up to another level. We see at the beginning that the mother daughter duo are not quite connected at that point. The relationship evolves through the film as you may guess, but seeing the disconnect and somewhat forced attempt at making a connection at times between these two felt rather authentic. I can tell it is really hard for the mother, otherwise known as Deb, to reestablish a bond with a daughter who has obviously changed over the years.

In a way, this reminds me of films in recent years like “Green Book” or “Summerland” or “The Last Shift” because it has that tendency to highlight unlikely bonds and put two people together that would not go well together on paper. Except that in this case, it literally involves a family that was once close but eventually separated by an object.

There is a reason why I love “Four Good Days” so much, and potentially more than a lot of people, and that is because of the bond between the mother and daughter character. Again, I say this as someone who does not have much experience with the dangers of drugs or people whose lives are taken over by drugs along with the person taking drugs. This is a story that I am glad went from text media to visual media because it is honestly bombastic as a visual story. I felt immersed, I cared for everyone involved from the main to the supporting characters, and the drama that builds up towards the end gets into your head and starts to destroy it second by second.

In the end, “Four Good Days” is a movie that I loved the moment I saw it, questioned my love for it afterwards, then validated said love moments later. Time will have to tell as for whether this will make my top 10 movies of the year. Given how little I have seen so far, it is definitely one of the better ones. I would love to sit with someone who has experienced a situation like this, watch this movie with them, and see what they think of it, because I think their perspective could help me formulate a full on opinion of this film. Until then, as a story, this film is magnificent. As art, it is moving. It also delivers Mila Kunis’s best performance of her career. As a piece of entertainment, I could definitely watch this again. So for those reasons, I am going to give “Four Good Days” a 9/10.

“Four Good Days” is now playing in select theaters and will be available through VOD services such as Fios On Demand, VUDU, and Prime Video starting May 21st.

Thanks for reading this review! My next review, which I do not know when it will be posted, will be for “Wrath of Man” starring Jason Statham. But, I also wanted to announce that this June I plan to do another update on my Blu-ray collection. I enjoy doing these posts and I’ve glad to talk about this concept at least once over the past couple years.

Speaking of big announcements…

7 DAYS OF STAR WARS!

IT’S HAPPENING! IT’S REAL! THE REVIEWS ARE BEING WRITTEN! The circle will be complete this month! I’ve reviewed every mainstream “Star Wars” film since “Rogue One,” including Episodes VIII and IX, but I have yet to talk about the episodes that came before, I through VII. THIS SUNDAY, MAY 23rd, I will be releasing my review for “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.” And of course, every other film will follow. Episode II will be released on May 24th! Episode III will be released on May 25th! Episode IV on May 26th! Episode V on May 27th! Episode VI on May 28th! Episode VII on May 29th! I have legitimately been planning for a time to talk about these movies, and with Scene Before existing for over half a decade and next week being the 44th anniversary of the franchise, I’d say this is perfect timing. Stay tuned, follow Scene Before with an email or WordPress account, like the Facebook page, be updated, be in the know, and until then, may the force be with you. Emphasis on the may. I want to know, did you see “Four Good Days?” What did you think about it? Or, did you read the “How’s Amanda?” article, tell me your thoughts on that! Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

Capone (2020): Josh Trank Chronicles the Gangster

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“Capone” is directed by Josh Trank (Fantastic Four, Chronicle) and stars Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk) as the title character alongside Linda Cardellini (Daddy’s Home, Gravity Falls), Jack Lowden (Dunkirk, Fighting with My Family), Noel Fisher (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Shameless), Kyle MacLachlan (Inside Out, Carol’s Second Act), Matt Dillon (There’s Something About Mary, Crash), and Al Sapienza (The Sopranos, Person of Interest). This film is about the famous American gangster, Al Capone, and is set during the last year of his life as he suffers from dementia.

This movie originally released on VOD this past May, and I have waited a little bit to talk about it for several reasons. For one, I took a break for the most part when it comes to movie reviewing during the spring. Also, “Scoob!” was a priority for me. It is an animated film, and I usually tend to review at least five a year now, so I wanted to get one under my belt. I should note that both movies released around the same time.

However, I was shopping inside Best Buy the other day and I came across “Capone,” which had a copy available on Blu-ray. I snatched it when I had the chance, and I popped it in a couple weeks later. For a price of $12.99, I felt that I was getting my money’s worth. After all, when this thing came out, I believe it was $19.99 to rent on VOD, which is still ridiculous to me. By the way, Disney, you’re crazy, and I say that as someone who may want to work with 20th Century in the future. “Mulan” deserves better and so do your customers!

Before I go any further, I should note that “Capone” has a 4.7/10 on IMDb. Given how a lot of the stuff on IMDb happens to be somewhere in the 6 to 8 range, that’s a pretty low score. I will say though, what kind of shocks me here is that this rating does not come from mostly 1s and 2s. Not even 3s. The most common rating for “Capone” is a 5 on IMDb. I’m not gonna give my score just yet. Per usual, we save that for the end. But I can see why 5 would be a common verdict here. This movie really isn’t anything special.

Now, this movie is directed by Josh Trank, who as far as my opinions are concerned has a fairly mixed resume. His movie “Chronicle” released back in 2012, was a fun found footage flick with a neat concept. I think it was pretty well done overall. But in 2015 he directed “Fantastic 4,” which ironically wasn’t even close to fantastic. When I was seeing it at the theater. I missed part of the climax as I was more concerned about getting more popcorn than I was about catching the rest of this movie. When it comes to “Fantastic 4” in particular, I don’t put all the blame on Josh Trank, given how that film was basically made as a quick money grab so Fox could keep the rights from reverting back to Marvel. So even though “Fantastic 4” was not entirely great, it wasn’t exactly earth-shatteringly devastating to watch. As for “Capone,” the same can be said for that movie. It’s by no means the best movie in the world, it’s not a masterpiece, not worth massive attention. It just… exists.

I will say though, and this should not be completely surprising as this movie does come from a smaller studio, this project feels just a tad more personalized coming from a guy like Josh Trank. Maybe there’s some hints of a story formula that become obvious here and there, but if this movie were say, the next “Parasite,” I would be all over Josh Trank right now and completely excited to see whatever he does next. Although I should point out, unlike “Fantastic Four,” Josh Trank actually wrote the screenplay for “Capone” by himself. During the writing process for “Fantastic Four,” he was involved with the screenplay enough to receive a credit. But so were Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg.

I do like Tom Hardy’s performance here as Al Capone. One thing for me to consider, based on the other projects where I’ve seen Tom Hardy, such as “Mad Max: Fury Road” or “Venom,” it doesn’t really feel like my typical vision for Tom Hardy himself. It actually feels like he’s playing a character. Although ironically, this movie comes out during the COVID-19 pandemic and this is the one time Tom Hardy plays a character that doesn’t wear a mask. Given his resume, such as the recently mentioned “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Venom,” along with other films including “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Dunkirk,” it feels a little out of the ordinary. I’m not complaining, it’s just something I noticed.

I should note that I watched this movie on Monday, August 3rd. This gave me plenty of time to gather my thoughts for a review. Unfortunately, the little that I do fully remember about this movie does not say enough for this movie to have a lasting impact. Yes, I did feel bad for Al Capone given how he was going through some health issues. There’s definitely a reason to get attached to such a character. Although, I’m gonna use this phrase once again, this movie doesn’t really have the oomph factor to push it over the edge. Do I care for Al Capone here? Sure. But will I care for him in a week when I move on to the next movie? That’s hard to say. This movie has some great dialogue exchanges between characters that make you somewhat emotionally attached, but I don’t feel like I’m going to remember anybody’s name in this film except maybe Al Capone because he’s on the flipping title of the movie for crying out loud!

For the most part, I do think Josh Trank’s “Capone,” kind of like the last movie I reviewed, “Gretel & Hansel,” is a competent production. I think the location choices were suitable, I like the casting, and getting Tom Hardy to play the lead role is a fine mix of name recognition and talent. I will say one thing though as a compliment compared to “Gretel & Hansel.” “Capone” was more entertaining in its span of a hundred and three minutes, compared to “Gretel & Hansel” in its span of eighty seven minutes. Sometimes, it goes to show… A movie is as long as the viewer makes it. “Gretel & Hansel” in this case, maybe took a million more years to get through. I was entertained by “Capone,” but I don’t think I’ll watch it again in the near future.

In the end, “Capone” is not… Terrible, but to call it next level material or even “good” would be a lie. It’s just some extended series of scenes that may or may not be a waste of time depending on your mood. I think there was some effort put into it, but again, there’s no lasting impact for me to remember this film forever. Maybe if I watched the film in a theater, who knows? It could be experiential, but I didn’t. I saw it at home… Where we are stuck for the rest of our lives… End this pandemic… I’m going to give “Capone” a 5/10. I will say, the rating could jump to a 6/10 as there were some entertaining parts. But when seeing a brief moment of “The Wizard of Oz” was the most fascinating part of “Capone,” that’s kind of a problem. It was a good scene, but still.

Thanks for reading this review! This weekend I’m planning on seeing “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” a new movie that is only playing in theaters. Can’t believe I’m saying that! This film is about an art dealer trying to steal a painting and the mission suddenly goes out of control. Sounds like a work of art.

*Cricket noises*

Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account so you can stay tuned for more great content! Also, check out the official Scene Before Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “Capone?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite Tom Hardy performance? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!