Review: Things We Lost in the Fire

Perhaps Things We Lost in the Fire was one of 2007’s most underrated movies, and for good reason.? How the hell do you market an emotionally honest film about two adults trying to get their shit together?? Steady and mature adult dramas have all but disappeared from Hollywood, which is a shame.

Susanne Bier has crafted a gut wrenching flick that picks ups in the aftermath of a family’s tragic loss.? A widower (Halle Berry) invites her dead husband’s best friend (Benecio del Toro) to live with them allowing the family to cope with losing a husband/father and giving a junky the chance to get his life back on track.

It’s a simple story anchored in emotionally nuanced performances, perhaps the finest performances Berry and del Toro have ever given.? It is a crime that del Toro wasn’t nominated for Best Actor for his boffo performance as a man trying to find redemption after losing the only human who ever cared about him.? Watching him trying to hold on for a family he only vaguely knew and a women that despised him is a true gut-punch.

There is a moment towards the end of the film where Jerry is back at rehab, his ashen and sunken face staring into the camera from behind the blackened eyes of a 1,000 lives.? He’s recounting this dream of when he’s at peace and convincing himself to take things “one day at a time.”? And as he’s doing that, the rain is pouring down outside and Halley Berry finds a bouquet of roses with the note “Accept the Good.”

There are no easy endings in this life, just difficult choices that we are forced to make every single day.? Though Jerry (David Duchovney) is dead from the outset of the movie, his fingerprint is all over every character.? It is Jerry that permeates what everyone does, his goodness and generosity of spirit is the one thing that keeps his wife and best friend from falling into the abyss.

This film comes highly recommended, but you have to be emotionally up for it.? It’s not some Saturday afternoon trifle to be watched with half-attention.? It’s not the story you tell (for this is one that’s been told a million times before?) it’s how you tell the story that counts.? Bier succeeds largely on the backs of Halley Berry and Benecio del Toro.

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