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Monday, August 5

Things We Lost in the Fire

Some movies build themselves around characters with the promise of new beginnings in the sequels that only run in our minds. Things We Lost in the Fire is about the healing, grief, closure, redemption that fill our souls when we suddenly lose someone close. Change seems to be the hardest choice so we cling to any reminder of a normal life in an attempt to restore the initial state of calmness.
 

Audrey (Halle Berry) and Brian (David Duchovny) Burke have a happy marriage and two beautiful kids. When Brain gets killed in a random fight, Audrey finds herself helpless and asks Brian's junkie friend, Jerry, to come live with her family. Jerry Sunborne (Benicio Del Toro) is a former lawyer turned into a heroin addict who has lost everything important in his life. Audrey's need to overcome the grieving times is Jerry's last chance to do the right thing for himself. She initially asks for Jerry to live in the garage out of a sense of loyalty towards her dead husband who has been looking for his friend's well-being for years. It is Audrey's way of keeping Brian's memory alive and paying a tribute to her generous husband. But loss has left her needy and their relationship turns into a chance to overcome pain together.





“Accept the good.” is the note left by Jerry, together with a flower bouquet, on Audrey's doorstep. If he has come to accept the hand she lent him to change his life around, then she must do the same thing and move on. Her frailty grows on Jerry who has to fight addiction and the temptation of falling for his best friend's girl but this is one thing that saves the movie from being an average American romance. Things We Lost in the Fire is rather about they way people cope with grief and how families stay together through hard times than a cheesy romance.

Susanne Bier, the gifted Danish writer-director of Open Hearts, Brothers and After the Wedding directs her first American movie in the same classy manner that takes us back and forth, at a slow, steady pace. Things We Lost in the Fire uses techniques such as close-up to characters' faces, side stories, mirroring, visual themes and an easy dialogue to unfold the story. The performances of the two leading actors are excellent, reminding us of a Halle Berry once worth of an Oscar Award and with a Benicio del Toro who is genuine and plausible. Things We Lost in the Fire is a sensitive drama about second chances and gentle closures, the kind of movie that is more about the characters than the story.