Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Things We Lost in the Fire |
Actors: Halle Berry, Benicio Del Toro, Alison Lohman, David Duchovny, Alexis Llewellyn
Director: Susanne Bier
Studio: Paramount Home Video Release Date: 03/24/2009 Run time: 118 minutes Rating: R
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What was lost in the fire was an opportunity for a better fi
Steven Hedge | Somewhere "East of Eden" | 03/31/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I really wanted to like this film as I'm a huge fan of Halle Berry and the storyline just looked so compelling on paper. However, the delivery of this story just falls flat.
The story is told in present tense, but cleverly spliced in flashbacks fill in the background. Halle plays Audrey Bruke, a mother of two, whose husband Brian, played by "X Files" David Duchovny, is killed (I won't spoil the story by stating how, but we are told he's killed early on). We learn via the flashbacks that his childhood friend, Jerry, very well played by Del Toro, with whom he is still close is now a heroin addict and that Brian is the only friend he has left checks on him regularly and buys him food much to Audrey irritation as she worries about him going to see Jerry in the very bad neighborhood in which he lives.
Perhaps as a way of hanging onto her dead husband's memory or simply out of a selfish need for company, Audrey invites Jerry to "recover" from his addiction at her home in the garage that was made into a studio apartment after a fire in which she recalls endlessly complaining about "what we lost in the fire", but to which her husband Brian always used to say "but we didn't lose each other and that's the important thing in life", hence, the film's title.
Audrey's character is complex to say the least as she makes demands of Jerry that are inappropriate and selfish, like helping her fall to sleep at night by rubbing her ears the way her Brian had at bedtime. The whole scene screams false and contrived to begin with, but add to that that she invites Jerry to kind of be a part of the family and then resents his closeness to the kids later. Again, she's a complex character, but numerous moments stretch credibility when juxtaposed to more credible moments. I have no problem with her bringing home her husband's best friend as that makes sense to me for someone who just lost a spouse and may want to hang onto his memory somehow or continue his work so-to-speak in helping his friend, but the silly and contrived scene of him getting into her bed, on her husband's side (I think would be scared place to her), and have him give her an ear massage like her husband did is over-the-top corny and diminishes the impact of other more believable scenes.
The acting by all is quite good, however, the dialogue struggles from the weight of someone who may have watched too many Dr. Phil episodes and concludes with . . . drum roll, please . . . "we must live one day at a time." I kid you not; that is a direct quote from the film. This is the depth of the psychology in this film that I feel treats its subject matter far too superficially. I found myself greatly insulted by this kind of cliché-ridden lecturing. Even the children are given silly supposedly psychological lines to say when the one daughter yells at Jerry for leaving "after you tried to take my father's place." I'm sorry kids just don't talk this way and I've witnessed my fair share of broken families personally and as a veteran teacher. It is the way people THINK others will speak in such situations and it creaks and groans under it's own contrived weight.
In addition to a seriously faulty script at times (there are some very good moments in the dialogue), the direction it appears was also lost in the fire. Danish director Susanne Bier seems to think that extreme close-ups of eyes makes her film somehow artsy or clever or important, but both my wife and I kept scratching our heads wondering what was with these long drawn out eyeball close-ups. They made no sense, there was no symbolism in it, and they didn't advance the story any and act only as a distraction. The story also seems to meander around too much in which some better editing and trimming of the film would have made some difference. The best compliment I can give to the director is that she allowed her talented actors to just do their thing with little control over them (perhaps why she resorted to bizarre shots in order to put her "stamp" on the film) and she did cleverly insert the flashback scenes at appropriate times and they were quite telling and compelling.
I still give this film three stars as the acting is quite good, the topic is touching, and Audrey, as played by Halle Berry, is a complex character and I enjoy those when I can get them, but the script, direction and editing take their toll on a film that could have and should have been so much better than it was. Overall, it wasn't a "bad" film, it was just one in which it was disappointing because it could have been so much better. Remember, that three stars means a film is good and I do recommend this one with some reservations as there are some glaring problems with this film that could really agitate some (and some may dismiss them as no big deal)."
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Few films released last year have the quiet sensitivity in writing (Allan Loeb), direction (Susanne Bier), cinematography (Tom Stern), and acting (Berry, Del Toro, Duchovny) as this gem of a movie. Taking on a subject of grief after a sudden traumatic death and the way it affects family and friends would seem like a tedious subject for a two hour film, but THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE proves again that care and devotion in telling a difficult story with restraint and tenderness is far more compelling that many of the 'big' movies that fill the theaters with more superficial topics.
Brian Burke (David Duchovny) is a generously warm man to his beautiful wife Audrey (Halle Berry), their son Dory (Micah Berry), and daughter
Harper (Alexis Llewellyn) as well as to his longtime, childhood friend Jerry Sunborne (Benecio Del Toro) who is constantly struggling with an addiction to heroin. Brian is suddenly dead as the film opens and the friends are gathered at the Burke home for the funeral. Audrey is devastated by the abrupt loss and quietly bears her shock in order to be present for her children. During the reception Audrey suddenly remembers she has not informed Brian's best friend Jerry of his death and sends her brother to fetch him for the services. We meet the wasted Jerry, the shambles of his heroin-addicted life obvious in his tiny apartment, and yet when Jerry hears the news of Brian's death, he is profoundly shocked: Brian is the only friend he has. Jerry makes himself presentable and attends the funeral and despite the fact that Audrey had always considered Jerry a 'weight' on Brian, the two offer each other a zone of connection that cannot be filled by any other. Slowly Jerry becomes part of the Burke household and his role in offering love to the children and solace and protection to Audry results in changes in Jerry's life that provides one bit of evidence of the redemption that can occur from shared grieving. 'Things', such as those items lost in a fire at the Burke's in the past, are simply 'things': interpersonal connection, hope, and the 'light from within' are what truly matter.
Berry and Del Toro give finely nuanced performances in these difficult roles, further establishing their credentials as being two of our finest actors in film. But the entire cast of this film is pitch-perfect and under the direction of Bier communicates powerfully with the viewer. The extraordinary camera work concentrates on extreme closeup views of eyes, hands, lips and tears and allows the viewer an intimate relationship with these characters. Johan Söderqvist provides a subtle musical score that underlines the story without calling attention to itself. For this viewer this is hands down one of the finest films of 2007. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, March 08"
"What's Important in This Life..."
Rocky Raccoon | Boise, ID | 03/09/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There are many things that happen in `Things We Lost in the Fire;' so many that it has an immediate impact that keeps a flow through the whole film. While most of the movie contains dialogue that makes the movie move so slowly, it saves itself from becoming a trivial soap opera by making every movement deliberate and absorbing.
Brian (David Duchovny) and Audrey (Halle Berry) Burke start the deliberations as a loving, mixed racial couple. He's a successful businessman, and they have two lively and likable children, Harper (10) and Dory (6), who look up to dad, even though he's a bit rough when teaching the timid Dori how to swim. Not a perfect family, but love and prosperity pervade their home. Instantly, we make a connection when Brian tells Dory she is like a fluroscent light, glowing from within.
Creating friction is Brian's best friend from childhood, Jerry Sunborne (Benedicio Del Toro) who is a heroin addict on the mend and attending Narcotics Anonymous Meetings. In contrast to Brian's well-furnished dwelling, Jerry lives in an apartment that looks like the living space of a cheap motel room. He finds different ways to be on the mend, but as The Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane" reverberates through his headphones, we start to get an idea of the draw. (And those well-edited time frames that nervously jump to the near future give one a close observation of the mending consciousness of an addict.) Audrey resents how much time and effort Brian puts into their relationship and notes that he is the giver and Jerry is the benefactor with little room for give and take.
Then during a self-less act I won't go into here, Brian loses his life. Both friend and wife are shell-shocked, beyond belief, and Audrey must pick up the pieces as she tends to her emotional ship-wrecked life with two children to bring up by herself.
True to heart, both Audrey and Jerry try to fill the void in their lives. She looks at him in a new light, but as they get closer together, his knowledge of Brian creates some friction as she realizes he had some missing pieces of her late husband she never had when he was alive. Both characters have setbacks and breakthroughs that reveal a lot of truth emotionally about how much heartbreak can effect people in their daily lives.
Audrey finds herself fixing up the garage where a fire destroyed many of their stored possessions, and it is here that Jerry is given a chance to help the family and find an inviting place to stay. The children are taken by him, but Audrey again finds some resentment that resurfaces during his stay. Objectively, Audrey's brother, Neal (Omar Benson Miller), and Brian's closest work associate, Howard (John Carroll Lynch, 'Memento'), are able to bridge some objective realizations in both parties' lives. Further, fellow NA member, Kelly (Allison Lohman) provides some badly needed support for Jerry.
Whatever complaints of plodding development, 'Things We Lost in the Fire' answers quickly by creating an emotional appeal that works early and often throughout the film."
M. Chen | 03/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is absolutely amazing! It took 4 tries for me to fully understand the film, but there's so many hidden meanings, and i love that. You can take so much from the movie. All the actors/actress were definately talented and you could really believe what was happening to them. So many films these days feel cheap, but this one is organic...WHATCH THE FILM, SERIOUSLY, IT CAN CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE. It changed mine.