28 Days

It takes about two minutes for 28 Days to establish that star Sandra Bullock has a serious drinking problem—just look at all those bottles in her apartment—and the rest to straighten her out. After a disastrous incident involving a wedding cake and a stolen limousine, Bullock finds herself sentenced to a remotely located rehab clinic, confined with a colorful assortment of recovering addicts. Though she initially resists treatment, Bullock begins to recognize that she has a problem, a realization that complicates her relationship with high-living boyfriend Dominic West. It's about as uncomplicated a story arc as a movie about rehab could possibly possess, so it comes as a surprise that 28 Days, for the most part, works it for all it's worth. Written by Susannah Grant (Erin Brockovich) and directed by Betty Thomas, 28 Days doesn't offer a bold new interpretation of the rehab experience, but it has a clearheaded vision of it, with troubled characters unlikely to avoid a relapse in the outside world no matter how long their stay. Effectively cast against type as someone who causes suffering rather than one who endures it with a quirk and a smile, Bullock's never-quite-surrendered skepticism helps take the self-help edge off the film. She's aided by an expert supporting cast that includes Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Alan Tudyk, Elizabeth Perkins, Viggo Mortensen (used well, for once), and Azura Skye as Bullock's junkie roommate. The film could use a bit more of Steve Buscemi as an ex-addict counselor: He grounds the film in a way nothing else about it does. It would also benefit from some ambition to be about more than just rehab—aside from some cliched flashbacks to Bullock's youth, there's no real sense of what, besides drugs, brought anyone to this point—not to mention an ending that isn't so arbitrary. But as it is, 28 Days and everyone in it exceeds expectations at nearly every turn.

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