Disclaimer: This is a review, and as such will contain opinions, spoilers and (often) general shit talking. (If you talk about what you don’t like about a work, you learn a lot. When you think through a work with the stakes presented to you by the creator, by the context of the work, you learn a lot. I review things, not because I love to dislike things, but because dislike contains rich and vital information for the process of experiencing something, but I cannot access it without interrogating it.) So, if you don’t want to have this thing spoiled for you, or don’t know how to behave when a person on the internet, that you don’t know, has opinions that don’t line up with yours, this review is not for you. It’s also not for the author/creator of the work. Please and thank you.

I recently watched both Four Good Days and Luckiest Girl Alive almost back-to-back. The former left me in awe, the latter in bland confusion.

In both cases, I think Mila Kunis does an excellent job, making the characters feel real and lived-in (though I personally find Molly in Four Good Days the more masterful performance).

Four Good Days is one of those roles that big stars might shy away from, because they feel like it could be career suicide to play (case in point, Christian Bale in American Psycho or The Machinist). But Kunis goes full anti-glam with bruises and rotting teeth, to portray an addict who has finally hit rock bottom and wants to regain the life she’s missed out on in her addiction.

I’m always really glad to see that an actor is willing and able to put the glam aside (not in the least because I see humanity in being able to put down your own pretty privilege), and step into the shoes of someone so far removed from the Hollywood life.

I loved Jupiter Ascending, but let’s face it, her cleaning toilets background in that action adventure was more surface-level plot device than anything genuinely palpable. It’s also encouraging to see that an actor who typically gets type-casted has the chance to step outside of that standard to do something challenging.

When we first meet Molly in Four Good Days, she’s strung out and on the edge, camping out on her mother’s porch so she can beg her to fight for her one more time.

Together with Glenn Close as Molly’s mother Deb, the pair give a powerhouse performance as a mother-daughter team fighting to make things right again. The moments in the film are uncomfortable, mistrust, guilt and heartbreak permeating their relationship, and you’re left wondering if there is an end in sight where their relationship will be even somewhat restored.

Molly’s recovery feels precarious and fragile, and I found myself siding with both mother and daughter, while also siding against both.

I know the critics harped on the end not being brave enough, but at the same time I was glad it wasn’t a typical Hollywood-style ending that went out with a bang. I would have hated to see a more decisive ending, because addiction isn’t something that you just get up and walk away from, leaving it behind like a common cold.

Even after getting clean and doing the work, you’re forever an addict, albeit a recovering one. The future for the characters at the end of the movie isn’t clear, but possible.

There’s nothing easy or comfortable about either film’s topic.

Luckiest Girl Alive explores the silence around surviving victims and Four Good Days delves into how broken trust can be regained in a volatile situation.

While Luckiest Girl Alive tackles some very relevant topics for the post-#MeToo zeitgeist set in a gun-positive culture in the US, in the end it feels like the two strong topics cancel each other out. It feels more like a true crime documentary that neatly packages trauma for consumeristic consumption.

Neither topic (sexual assault or surviving a school shooting) is ever really unpacked or explored, let alone with the depth these topics individually merit.

We mostly see Ani Fanelli (Kunis) in her life today and witness the effect both of those experiences had on who she became, amidst memories of the past. The whole story seems to focus on the wrong things, failing to really make both the stakes and the impact clear.

It would probably have been better off as a mini series, where you’d have the proper time to explore all aspects of both events. (I’m guessing the book it’s based on does this better than the film which truncates the big topics.)

And while Kunis gives a great performance in Luckiest Girl Alive, I couldn’t watch her giving interviews as an SA and gun violence survivor without thinking of the Danny Masterson letters.

I kept wondering, “How can she sit there and tell this story, of this person, when having written a letter in support of a systematic abuser?”

I don’t know if she’s addressed this in any interviews (I don’t follow celebrity news), but if this is something in the back of my mind, I imagine I’m not the only one.

Kutcher and Kunis’s written arguments for Masterson have raised important questions about the ethics of celebrities rushing to the defense of industry peers accused of rape and other heinous crimes – and it’s an especially bad look for Kutcher, who co-founded a non-profit to combat child sexual exploitation and also has a history of making inappropriate comments about underaged actors, including Kunis when she was a minor.

— Andrew Lawrence, From OJ Simpson to Danny Masterson: the celebrity support letter has long been a fixture of American justice

Even so, Kunis gives a solid if seemingly unchallenging performance, not quite reaching the emotional depths and nuance of Molly in Four Good Days. But even that performance does nothing to negate that this feels like a Hallmark movie that by it’s shallow storytelling trivialises the serious themes it attempts to grapple.

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