If you’re a Netflix enthusiast, you’ve likely come across the moving story of Four Good Days. The film, quickly rising to be one of the top-viewed on the platform, resonates deeply with audiences worldwide, showcasing the haunting effects of drug abuse on familial bonds. Mila Kunis and Glenn Close beautifully portray a tumultuous mother-daughter journey grappling with addiction in the midst of the sweeping American opioid epidemic.
The opioid crisis is a pressing concern. The National Institute of Drug Abuse reported almost 92,000 drug-related overdose deaths in the US in 2020. This makes overdose the primary cause of injury-linked deaths in the country, with opioids being the main culprit. The tragedy lies in the shadows this issue casts; personal narratives like Four Good Days often remain unseen due to societal stigma around addiction. The film’s significance isn’t just about presenting stark numbers but giving a human face to this crisis.
Drawn from reality, Four Good Days is an adaptation of a 2016 Washington Post article. Penned by Pulitzer awardee, Eli Saslow, “How’s Amanda? A story of truth, lies, and an American addiction” chronicles heroin-addicted Amanda Wendler and her mother, Libby Alexander. As Amanda returns home seeking support, she continually battles staying sober to get an opioid antagonist shot.
Saslow highlights a dire reality: 350 people begin using heroin daily, as per Centres for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, with 79 succumbing daily. This narrative, like the film, underscores the grim opioid predicament engulfing America.
In the film, Molly (inspired by Amanda) is initially shunned by her mother, Deb, due to a history of deceit and theft. Deb recounts the pain: “We changed the locks after you and Eric stole the guitars.” But seeing Molly’s withdrawal symptoms, Deb admits her to a detox, hinting at a sliver of hope: “If there’s anything more relentless than heroin, it’s you.” Yet, Molly’s battle isn’t new; she’s detoxed 14 times previously. After detox, she is presented with a potential treatment but must stay clean for four days. The film delves into the roots of her addiction, revealing an irresponsible opioid prescription during her teen years.
The cinematic portrayal and the article converge when the daughter persuades her mother to connect with a fellow addict, Sammy. This leads to a relapse for Amanda/Molly.
Deception emerges as Amanda/Molly, after rescheduling her opioid antagonist shot, pleads with her mother for a urine sample, anticipating a failed drug test. The real story and the reel diverge towards the end: Amanda’s narrative concludes with her hospitalization during withdrawal, whereas the film’s Molly seems on a path to healing months post her relapse.
Both mediums poignantly remind us of the imperative to dispel the stigma surrounding drug addiction and advocate for more robust support mechanisms for the affected and their families.