Reel Dad: Glenn Close shines in new film 'Four Good Days'

Glenn Close and Mila Kunis star in

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

IMDb / Contributed photo

I love watching Glenn Close on screen.

She magically disappears into any character she plays by artfully revealing the layers people create to protect themselves. No matter the story, or the role, Close brings razor sharp focus to help us absorb how people endure the challenges they face.

In her latest film, “Four Good Days,” Close plays a woman named Deb who slowly accepts the realities her life delivers. Her first marriage ended when she left home to search for a new life. As a result, she spent years away from her children, a choice she must still confront. Deb makes a living tending to well-to-do clients at a casino spa, shares quiet evenings with her second husband Chris, and has spent the last 10 years embracing the fact that her daughter, Molly, is a heroin addict. When that woman, played by Mila Kunis, arrives one day at Deb’s doorstep, the mother must confront the choices she once made and the consequences she and her daughter must embrace. As the women wait for medication that could help Molly, they struggle with how the choices made over the years may separate them just when they need each other.

Based on a Washington Post article by Eli Saslow, who also co-wrote the screenplay, “Four Good Days” carefully avoids the pitfalls that could undermine such a narrative. While not overwhelming us with detail, the screenplay creates a clear point of view about the causes and impact of addiction. Rather than cast blame on one particular character, Saslow and writer/director Rodrigo Garcia carefully navigate how tension can build over time as people try to do the best they can. Instead of seeking quick solutions, the creators help us understand the complexities of addiction that can overwhelm families. And in place of scenes of scripted confrontation, the filmmakers focus on how these women fall back on the love they have shared as they try to navigate the uncertainties in their new paths.

While Kunis impresses in a demanding role, Close delivers a master class in acting subtleties as she creates a woman trying to be what others expect while hoping to preserve what she needs. As Deb makes the most of her time at home, whether ironing, munching on candy, looking out the window or down the hall, we sense the comfort she feels in her space even while avoiding the layers of anger she has ignored over time. Playing potentially conflicting emotions is ideal for Close who, as an actor, can say more with the glance of her eyes than many can express with lines of dialogue. She makes us want to know every aspect of Deb’s life, from how she drives her Pontiac to how she pleases her clients, to how she shops for groceries. And she breaks our hearts as she realizes how her love for her daughter, no matter how strong, may not be enough to protect her daughter.

Since first appearing on screen as Jenny Fields in The World According to Garp some 39 years ago, Close has carved a career filled with fascinating women. She creates these characters one moment, one gesture, at a time. Four Good Days reminds us how much we discover when Glenn Close is on screen.

“Four Good Days” is Rated R for “drug content, language throughout, and brief sexuality.” The film runs 1 hour, 40 minutes, and is showing in theaters before it begins to stream on May 21.

Summary: Four Good Days

Content: High. This exploration of how a mother and daughter navigate the realities of addiction provides a strong look at the challenges families can face.

Entertainment: High. As serious as the content, the film works because filmmakers Rodrigo Garcia and Eli Saslow make us care about the characters.

Message: High. The film, because it refuses to exaggerate, makes us want to learn more about these women and what they must confront.

Relevance: High. Any opportunity to discuss serious issues with older children can be welcome.

Opportunity for Dialogue: High. After you share this film with your older children, talk with them about the choices people make and the consequences they may face.