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Things We Lost In The Fire

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Judy Thorburn

Benicio Del Toro's Performance Ignites "Things We Lost In The Fire"

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BENICIO DEL TORO'S PERFORMANCE IGNITES "THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE"

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

For anyone who has suffered through a devastating loss, Things We Lost in the Fire will hit a recognizable emotional chord of profound proportions that has nothing to do with material possessions. So, get your hankies out because this somber drama is a tearjerker, but a well crafted one elevated by Halle Berry’s and especially Benecio del Toro’s powerful performances.

The subject matter deals with tragedy and the struggle to overcome pain, loss, and begin recovery. Danish director Suzanne Biers in her first English language film does a noteworthy job with Alan Loeb’s deeply moving script using her signature style of hand held cameras that focuses very closely on two people brought together by fate. Filmed with an artist’s attention to light and detail the camera used in extreme close-ups, especially on the eyes, is meant as a penetrating look into the emotional turmoil that lies beneath.

Well to do Seattle real estate developer, Brian Burke and his wife Audrey (David Duchovny and Halle Berry) are a loving, happily married couple who live in a spacious, beautiful home with their two small children, a six year old boy Dory (Micah Berry, no relation to Halle) and 10 year old girl Harper (Alexis Llewelyn). A few flashback glimpses into special intimate moments from their marriage and family life shows their close and supportive relationship. It is understandable why Audrey’s perfect world is torn apart when one evening police arrive at her door saying that her husband, who had just gone out for some ice cream, was shot to death while interfering in a wife beating.

At the funeral reception, enter Brian’s best friend since childhood Jerry Sunborne (Del Toro) a former lawyer turned recovering heroin addict. He is received with mixed feelings from Audrey who can’t understand why her husband was so close to Jerry and gave him so much of his time. She tells Jerry she hated him and in a forthcoming moment filled with rage, cries out that it should have been him instead of Brian, not realizing that Jerry is trying to stay clean while coping with the loss of the only person who stood by him through thick and thin.

When Audrey discovers that Jerry is working as a janitor in a methadone clinic in exchange for a place to stay, the lonely depressed widow invites him to move into her garage that was in the process of being refurbished, after being destroyed by fire. In exchange for free room and board he could help her with necessary repairs and maintenance. Plus, having him around might be a good thing in her time of grief. But his presence evolves into much more. Jerry begins to bond with the children, filling an emotional void as a sort of surrogate father. Audrey, on the other hand begins to resent Jerry who she believes might be trying to replace Brian. In anger, she tells Jerry to leave, a move that has a negative effect, sending Jerry on a downward spiral back to heroin.

This time it’s Audrey to the rescue and to lend support which brings into play the mutual need for both people to help each other recover from the worst of times. Alison Lohman has a small but effective role as Kelly, a former addict who has been through the mill, that Jerry meets at a Narcotics Anonymous session. She offers much needed aid when Jerry has his setback.

There is also the Burke’s neighbor and friend, mortgage banker Howard Glassman (John Carroll Lynch) who lends a hand in Jerry’s recovery. Howard also misses Brian who was his jogging partner and winds up asking Jerry to share his morning run. Their budding friendship eventually leads to a job offer if Jerry can pass the real estate exam.

Berry delivers her best performance since Monsters Ball, but it is Benecio del Toro who puts it out there with a fully realized, tour de force portrayal of a tortured junkie. His acting is so natural; his expressive face, myriad of emotions and every gesture so totally believable, that you can’t help but be amazed at the genuine amount of heart he conveys without having to utter a word. Del Toro deserves and should be a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination, if not winner. So far this year, I haven’t seen a more worthy male actor.

Another admirable aspect of the film is the lack of clichés or the usual inclusion of a romantic entanglement which has no place in this scheme of things.

Things We Lost in the Fire is all about the healing process and makes a strong statement about how all human beings need support from others in order to recover. As angst ridden as the storyline might be, the end result is rewarding.
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