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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Things We Lost in the Fire (2007)

This is not a movie that garnered a lot of positive press when it came out, but I thought it was emotionally complicated in a way that made me think. Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro are strong actors who give good performances here, and Susanne Biers is one of my favorite all time directors (I fell for her when I saw 'Brodre', but 'After the Wedding' was the deal sealer for me). The slam that this movie has taken is that it is too formulaic, but I disagree.
Brian is a smart, successful man married to a beautiful wife, has two great kids, lives in a nice neighborhood--and he has a heroin addicted best friend from childhood that he maintains a life long relationship with. His wife is appalled. She thinks he is someone that everyone else has given up on, and her husband should follow suit. She doesn't get the connection that Jerry gives Brian, nor how important the connection to their shared past is to each of them.
Then Brian gets killed. His wife, Audrey is set adrift. She is frozen, numb, unable to cope with just about everything, and wearing this veil of disengagement, she invites Jerry to live with them. She suddenly can't find anything more connected to Brian than Jerry and she doesn't understand where that need comes from, and it certainly isn't rational, but she decides to go with her gut over her head.
The arrangement works out a lot better than it probably would, but there are episodes of screaming and anger that you rarely see in a film. There are all the stages of grief portrayed, and the unique way out that this story portrays is worth thinking about.
There are lots of things I would have edited differently, but this movie is worth seeing. It has Benicio Del Toro doing a great job getting inside the head of a smart junkie. It shows some of the stability that helps kids overcome loss. That they sense someone's real interest in them, and are willing to accept the less than savory parts. Drugs scare them but Jerry doesn't. Not a light movie, but a though provoking one.

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