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The American directorial debut of director Susannah Bier, "Things We Lost in the Fire" stars Halle Berry as Audrey, who - at the movie's open - has just recently lost her husband, Brian (David Duchovny). Early in the movie, Audrey and her children - Harper (Alexis Llewellyn) and Dory (Micah Berry) - attend the funeral early in the movie, and are joined by many of Brian's close friends and family. One of the friends is Jerry (Benecio Del Toro), one of Brian's long-time best pals, and also a recovering addict.

While Audrey never approved of Jerry, she still invites him to stay longer. Throughout the movie, we get flashbacks of Brian's life leading up to this point, and both his friendship with Jerry and his relationship with his wife. As the film progresses, we see that Brian was the only friend that Jerry had left as his life began to spiral out of control.

In present day, Audrey begins to look past her dislike of Jerry and realize that Brian would have wanted him to be looked after. He realizes that he has screwed up in the past, and begins to think that maybe someone should be there for Audrey like Brian was there for him. She offers him the chance to move in to an extra space above the garage in order to help out and get himself settled in a nice area away from the run-down neighborhood he lives in. However, while the two believe they can help each other, it eventually becomes evident that them being together may do much more harm than good and what they are seeking may be within themselves.

The movie manages to be both an addiction movie and a movie about loss and balances the two issues reasonably well. Del Toro's performance is the most remarkable thing about the movie, as he does a wonderful job portraying the hurt that he feels about how his addiction has kept him down and caused him to lose nearly everything.

I haven't been thrilled in the least with Berry in her last couple of performances ("Perfect Stranger"), but she really does make a very nice comeback with this role, as it is a touching, fairly subtle portrayal of a character attempting to mourn and look after her kids. I definitely wouldn't say that either performance isn't award-worthy, but they're two efforts that are mostly good and sometimes great. Berry and Del Toro are kind of an inspired, unexpected pairing, but they work well together. Duchovny and Berry, however, don't have very much chemistry in their scenes together. Allison Lohman, as an addict at Jerry's meetings who realizes when Jerry may be in trouble again, also offers a fine supporting effort.

The film is, as one might expect, not a "feel good" picture, but I have to say that at least the picture stays with its tone till the end (although the finale of "Accept the good" is a bit of an overly simplistic note to end on) and doesn't try for a happier ending, as one might expect from a movie like this. The movie tiptoes into melodrama and soapiness at times, but doesn't really ever go into being heavy-handed.

Overall, the movie works well enough. The performances are very good, but the story has a few rocky moments and the movie's a little too low-key and arm's length for its own good. Overall, this is a drama with strong moments and fine performances, but it just falls short of being memorable.


The DVD

VIDEO: "Things We Lost in the Fire" is presented by Paramount on Blu-Ray in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC). This is another solid presentation from the studio, as while a few flaws are present, this is otherwise a fine improvement over the DVD. While the film has a slightly soft feel by intent, many scenes still boast very pleasing detail and clarity.

A couple of minor instances of edge enhancement were seen, but the presentation was otherwise smooth and clean, with no noise or print flaws. Although the picture understandably (given the material) had a somewhat subdued look at times, colors still appeared spot-on, with no visible concerns. Flesh tones also looked accurate.

SOUND: "Things We Lost in the Fire" is offered in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The film's sound design is, as one might expect, subdued and low-key, with little in the way of surround use. Audio quality is fine, with crisp dialogue and a clear, full sounding score. Dialogue sounds a bit crisper and more precise than on the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack on the DVD, but the differences are minor.

EXTRAS: 7 deleted scenes and a "making of" featurette, "A Discussion About Things We Lost in the Fire" (which provides a good overview of the film and some insightful interviews with cast and crew.) Offered in HD is the trailer.

Final Thoughts: "Things We Lost" is a generally compelling drama, but the fact that the film remains a little cool emotionally and has some heavy-handled moments keep it from being great. The Blu-Ray edition boasts better video quality and slightly improved audio quality over the DVD. A recommended rental for fans of the actors.





Film Grade
The Film B-
DVD Grades
Video 89/B+
Audio: 87/B
Extras: 70/C-


DVD Information





Things We Lost in the Fire (Blu-Ray)
Paramount Home Entertainment
2.35:1
Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (English)
Dolby Digital 5.1 (French/Spanish)
118 minutes
Subtitles: English/English SDH/French/
Spanish/Portuguese
Rated R
1080P
AVC
Available At Amazon.com: Things We Lost in the Fire (Blu-Ray)