New York based writer Gwen Cummings knows that she drinks a lot, doesn't believe it's a problem, and if she finally decides that it is that she could stop drinking without issue. She and her live-in boyfriend Jasper fuel each other's hyperactivity with this excessive alcohol consumption, "a normal life" which is not in either's vocabulary for themselves. Between Gwen and her older straight-laced sister Lily, Gwen more closely resembles who was their larger than life mother, who was also an addict and who died when they were children. Lily believes that Gwen's alcohol consumption makes her a difficult if not impossible person to love. While Gwen is in a drunken stupor at Lily's wedding, Gwen causes one issue after another, ruining the day for Lily. Gwen is forced to examine her drinking with the culmination of bad events she caused at the wedding, leading to her being court ordered to enter into rehab for twenty-eight days, which is only marginally more tolerable an idea to her than the alternative, which is jail. For Gwen to make any progress, she has to acknowledge that she has a problem which requires the support during those twenty-eight days not only of the facility's staff, but also the other patients, each who is going through his/her own issue with respect to the demons of addiction. If she does eventually acknowledge the problem, she will also have to reconcile the events of her life with Lily, and come to the realization that a life with Jasper is not in her best interest if she has any chance of surviving outside of the facility after those twenty-eight days.
After getting into a car accident while drunk on the day of her sister's wedding, Gwen Cummings is given a choice between prison or a rehab center. She chooses rehab, but is extremely resistant to taking part in any of the treatment programs they have to offer, refusing to admit that she has an alcohol addiction. After getting to know some of the other patients, Gwen gradually begins to re-examine her life and see that she does, in fact, have a serious problem. The path to recovery will not be easy, and success will not be guaranteed or even likely, but she is now willing to give it a try.
No sooner has the sick-makingly glutinous Girl, Interrupted squelched off our screens than another, almost exactly similar film replaces it: 28 Days, directed by Betty Thomas, almost constituting another new genre: the rehab chick flick. Like Girl, Interrupted it has an empathetic woman forced into rehab who has to share a room with a wild, defiant girl giving the world the finger with fierce attitude. But soon they will be tearful best buds. Sandra Bullock is sentenced to rehab after a drunk-driving incident which is the culmination of an uproarious day ruining her sister's wedding.
Twenty-eight days is how long she must spend there, and I can only say it is unusual to see a film happening in real time. Sandra looks every inch the kind of wild Hollywood actress who chugs her Evian straight out of the bottle. Frankly, the 13-year-old Ruth Lawrence looked like more of a "party girl", but here Sandra gamely impersonates someone with substance abuse problems - and these are alcoholism combined with what appears to be a situation with painkillers, although this second factor is slipped in for realism's sake; it is not dwelt on and needless to say, there is no question of the female lead actually doing nasty illegal drugs.
That sort of yucky realism is reserved for the ugly crazies in the supporting cast, who include a zany German homosexual. There is not a dry eye in the house when Sandra's sister sobbingly confesses: "Even a pain-in-the-ass needs someone; I should have helped you with your homework...!" Oy.