When Rodrigo Garcia (Albert Nobbs) read the 2016 Washington Post article How’s Amanda? A Story of Truth, Lies and an American Addiction about a mother and daughter’s harrowing battle against opioid dependency, the Colombian writer, director and producer said he wasn’t particularly looking for a story like that to be the basis of his next film.
There was something that resonated with him, however, about the people at the center of the real-life narrative, a drug addict named Amanda Wendler and her mother Libby Alexander.
“What attracted me was this particular mother and daughter and how specifically they were portrayed and how tired they were of each other from the beginning,” Garcia, 61, tells Remezcla during a recent interview. “I thought this idea of… this pressure cooker in the house trying to stay clean and re-debating all their arguments and bitterness was interesting.”
Garcia, whose father is late Nobel Prize-winner, writer Gabriel García Márquez (One Hundred Years of Solitude), co-wrote the script for the drama Four Good Days with journalist Eli Saslow, the original writer of the Post article. The film stars Mila Kunis (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) as Molly, a young heroin addict who attempts to get clean with the help of her mother, Deb (Glenn Close).
To do this, Molly will have to be off drugs for four whole days, so that she can take an opioid antagonist, which will prevent the body from responding to the drugs. While Molly and Deb have been estranged for a decade, Deb allows her to spend the four days at her home. Instead of witnessing an addict’s decline into addiction, Four Good Days introduces audiences to Molly when she’s already hit rock bottom.
Drug addiction is brutal… and, unfortunately, those stories are not unlike each other.
“Drug addiction is brutal in what it does to an individual and families and, unfortunately, those stories are not unlike each other,” Garcia says. “In no way am I trying to trivialize it, but the stories are often similar and how things come to be. What I liked here is that they were already deep into this hole. What we needed to see was how they negotiated these four days.”
Four Good Days is the fourth film Garcia has directed with Glenn Close. Close, an eight-time Oscar nominee, starred in his very first feature in 2000, Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her. She also starred in Garcia’s 2005 film Nine Lives and earned her sixth Oscar nomination for her role as a woman posing as a butler in 19th century Ireland in 2011’s Albert Nobbs. With their history (and the fact that Close is such an amazing actress), it’s a bit hard for Garcia not to think of her when a role like the one in Four Good Days crosses his desk.
“Obviously, she comes to mind when I read a role that could be right for her,” Garcia said. “She’s one of the best actors around and is easy and fun to work with. She’s someone who enjoys the process a great deal.”
It’s hard for stuff to get made.
While Garcia’s first eight films have received mostly mixed-to-positive reviews, he has yet to make a film that is specific to the Latino experience. That doesn’t mean, however, that he hasn’t tried getting a film with a Latino storyline produced.
“I’ve wanted to, but it’s hard for stuff to get made,” Garcia said. “I have a couple of films with Latinos subjects that I just haven’t been able to get off the ground. It’s not easy to find money to make these movies. It’s still super hard to get a Latino project in the U.S. financed. It’s very frustrating.”
Garcia was the executive producer and director on the 2020 reboot of TV’s Party of Five featuring a Mexican American family and is currently shooting the miniseries Santa Evita in Argentina about Eva Perón, the wife of Argentine President Juan Perón.
So, in this day and age, as everyone watches how Hollywood studios respond to calls for more diversity and representation, would a movie like 1996’s Evita starring Madonna even be an option?
“That was a musical and not a proper portrait of her life,” Garcia responds. “But, no, that wouldn’t happen right now.”
Four Good Days is currently playing at select theaters and will be available on demand May 21.