Things We Lost in the Fire is a 2007 drama film directed by Susanne Bier and written by Allan Loeb and starring Halle Berry and Benicio del Toro. The film was released in the United States and Canada on October 19, 2007 and in the United Kingdom on February 1, 2008.
Audrey Burke (Halle Berry) and her warm and loving husband Brian (David Duchovny) have been happily married 11 years; they have a 10-year-old daughter named Harper (Alexis Llewellyn) and a 6-year-old son named Dory (Micah Berry). Jerry Sunborne (Benicio del Toro) is a heroin addict who has been Brian’s close friend since childhood.
Audrey gets tragic news delivered to her door by the local police: Brian has been killed in an attempt to defend a woman who was being beaten by her husband. On the day of the funeral Audrey realizes that she has forgotten to inform Jerry of Brian's death. Her brother Neal (Omar Benson Miller) delivers the message to Jerry and takes him to the funeral.
Audrey invites Jerry to move into the room adjacent to their garage, which he does. During his stay at the Burke home Jerry struggles to remain drug-free and also becomes very fond of Harper and Dory. The relationship between Jerry and Audrey is fragile and complicated. Jerry helps Audrey cope in many ways, including lying with her in bed to help her sleep. But Audrey, upset and confused, takes out her grief at Brian's death on Jerry. She becomes angry when Jerry helps Dory overcome his fear of submerging his head in the pool, as this had been something Brian had tried to do for years. Eventually her rudeness to him causes Jerry to move out and relapse with heroin. Audrey and Neal rescue and rehabilitate him and he agrees to admit himself to a specialized clinic. At first Harper, who has come to love Jerry, is angry that he is leaving, but after he leaves her a heartfelt note she forgives him. At the close of the film Jerry is still struggling with his addiction but seems to be well on his way to recovery. He leaves flowers on Audrey's doorstep with a note that reads, "Accept the good", a phrase which Jerry had said to Brian and Brian had subsequently said to Audrey.
Reviews From imdb.com:
Great Story, Great Acting and Directing!!
Author: Tool Man (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Mesa, Arizona
5 October 2007
Saw this last evening at a preview screening here in Arizona and it was a LOT heavier than the trailer leads you to believe, which, I for one, was grateful for! Granted, this is only MY opinion, but I think that Halle does some of her best work in a long time here and for me, ranks up there with Monster's Ball and Losing Isaiah. Of course, Benecio is a great pleasure to watch as always, playing the demonized friend of David Duchovny, but I think Halle rises just a notch up everything here and truly shines! The supporting cast is also really enjoyable to watch, especially John Carroll Lynch playing a next door neighbor who finds an unlikely friend in Benecio's character. Great camera work and great direction all the way around and although the film is a bit long, I am glad the director had the wisdom not to rush through the story. Great film and I cannot wait to purchase it on DVD!
Powerful Story and Performances
Author: nrigsby from United States
10 October 2007
Went to a preview of this movie last night. I was blown away by the powerful performances of Benicio Del Torro and Halle Berry. Del Torro's performance was particularly moving - his best ever and Halle Berry definitely delivers. This is the story of a woman who appears to have been so invested in her husband as the center of her universe that when she tragically loses him, she turns to his best friend (who she has hated for years) to keep from losing her connection to her husband. In the course of events, she discovers the redeeming qualities her husband had always seen in him.
Del Torro gives a poignant performance of a drug addict who struggles to change his life after the loss of his best friend - with quiet dignity. A must see at least once. Although the movie is long, I can't imagine cutting one moment of this powerful story. Cinematically it's superb.
Everyone who knows anyone who has struggled with addiction will be gripped by the performance of Del Torro.
Author: Heather_Allen from United States
17 October 2007
While the movie itself was very even-paced throughout, it allowed time to process the emotions that were being conveyed so the slower-pace worked. This movie- everything from storyline to characters- was amazing and thought provoking. I'd recommend it for anyone who wants to see a movie full of heart, brilliant acting, and a unique storyline. The wonderful acting didn't stop with Halle and Benecio either- the supporting characters including the children were fantastic! There was simply so much heart and likability in those roles. It is the type of movie that remains your head even after you leave the theater which for me, doesn't happen often.
Things We Lost in the Fire - Oscar Worthy Acting
Author: GoneWithTheTwins from www.GoneWithTheTwins.com
15 October 2007
Phenomenal acting and a riveting story make Things We Lost in the Fire a must-see film, and an early Academy Award contender for an acting nod to Benicio Del Toro. While the film is deceptively simple, with few sets, fewer characters, and a non-sequential storyline, it is a powerful acting showcase for its impressive cast.
Audrey Burke (Halle Berry) has lost her husband Steven (David Duchovny) in a senseless murder. A few days later, the fast approaching funeral reminds her that she forgot to invite her husband's best friend Jerry Sunborne (Benicio Del Toro), a recovering heroin addict. Audrey is distraught and unable to cope with her loss, and despite her constant disapproval of Jerry and his horrific lifestyle, she invites him to stay in her home, partially to fill up some of the emptiness in her life, and partially because of his pathetic situation. When Jerry begins to fill the shoes of Steven, especially in the eyes of her two young children, Audrey must come to terms with her losses and what Jerry's influential presence may mean to her family.
Halle Berry's character is unable to cope with the loss of her husband, and a major theme that runs throughout the film is how detrimental death can be to family life and friends. She mourns for two hours, and while her contempt for Jerry (and then her slowly increasing appreciation for his presence) makes her a relatively dislikable character initially, her actions are not unbelievable. Berry's performance is powerful and emotional, and while audiences will be divided on whether she deserves sympathy or contempt, it will be unanimous that her acting is Oscar worthy.
Del Toro likewise inspires with his heartfelt and deeply moving Jerry, who doesn't want sympathetic attention, but whose actions demand it. Perhaps given up on by life, he too has given up on beating his addiction, despite his attendance at NA meetings and his once-a-year birthday meeting with Steven, his one and only true friend. It is left open as to how the two met and why they are so close considering their extremely different lives, but their connection and acceptance of each other's positions is perfectly understandable. When he becomes more than just a house guest, unexpected kindness and attention come from the children as well as the slowly softening Audrey. Easily one of the finest performances of the year, Del Toro embodies his drug-riddled and burnt out character with such authenticity and passion that it is also Del Toro's finest performance of his career.
Two factors remain mildly unsettling during the course of Things We Lost in the Fire. Firstly, the camera frequently lingers on extreme close-ups of characters' eyes. Never are both eyes framed, but only one and off-centered to boot, which is not only unusual, but also doesn't convey as much emotion as a larger portion of the face could. Perhaps it is an attempt to be innovative, but it serves no purpose other than to cause the audience to take note of its atypicalness. Secondly, the film jumps back and forth in time. Quite unnecessary for a storyline such as this, which could have utilized flashbacks for Steven instead, this shifting timeframe is not nearly as disorienting as it is unamusing.
A slow moving film that steadily builds as each character is fully fleshed out, Things We Lost in the Fire is a great character study that thrives on exceptionally spectacular performances. Each individual part is outstanding, but in its entirety it doesn't cross boundaries of overall superiority. Definitely worth watching for all of its sensational performances, look for Things We Lost in the Fire during this year's Academy Awards.
- Mike Massie (MoviePulse.net)
Accept the Good
Author: David Ferguson (email@example.com) from Dallas, Texas
21 October 2007
Greetings again from the darkness. Very good melodrama from Scandanavian director Susanne Bier. The film is intentionally slow moving ... just like real life tragedy. Although we could have been beaten over the head with the cute as heck kids, the story is actually more focused on the heroin addicted best friend played by Benecio del Toro. This makes the point that strength can come from many sources.
Halle Berry gives her best performance since "Monster's Ball" (yes even better than "Catwoman"). We feel her happiness, pain, desperation and hope. The cute kids are played by an amazing 11 yr old Alexis Llewellyn and Micah Berry (not her real life son). Also strong is Alison Lohman, who just doesn't work enough these days. However the strongest performance is by Benecio. I am not sure if the role was written for him or if he just perfectly captures best friend Jerry. It is most complicated role and requires enormous depth.
I definitely recommend the film thanks to its basis in reality and fine performances and terrific direction. However, I will qualify it by saying that I don't believe it is quite in the class of "21 Grams"
Sad But Not DepressingAuthor: Brent Trafton from Long Beach, CA
28 October 2007
I think a lot of people are skipping "Things We Lost In The Fire" because they think it is going to be depressing. While the film is definitely sad, it is not depressing because it is about coping and surviving in the face of tragedy. It is one of the best films of the year.
Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro give amazing performances and it is unfortunate that there are not more films that take advantage of their talents. I bet Halle Berry would not make so many bad films if she were given more scripts like this. The photography and directing are first rate.
If you have enough interest in this movie to be reading this review, you need to run out and see "Things We Lost In The Fire." This is a film about the things that matter most in life. It will lose much of it's impact on video, so you need to see it on the big screen while you can.
There is one man at the wake who doesn't seem to belong. Scruffy, unshaven, smoking, uncomfortable with himself, he draws aside from the affluent friends of the deceased. Yet he was the dead man's best friend. Jerry Sunborne (Benicio Del Toro) was never approved of by Audrey Burke (Halle Berry), the new widow, but she has invited him to the funeral all the same. She knows her husband would have wanted her to.
As "Things We Lost in the Fire" opens, Audrey was married for 11 years to Brian Burke (David Duchovny, seen in several flashbacks), and they were happy years, giving her two children, now 10 and 6, and a big house in an upscale suburb. Brian was a "genius" at real estate deals, her lawyer tells her, and she has inherited a fortune. But her loneliness haunts her. In a way, it was Jerry's "fault" that her husband died, because he visited his friend's flophouse on his birthday and was killed in a senseless street crime while trying to stop a stranger from beating his wife.
But that was like Brian, being loyal to his friend and playing a good Samaritan. Jerry and Brian were friends from childhood; Jerry became a lawyer, and then a drug addict, and is now trying to get clean and sober at Narcotics Anonymous. And Audrey surprises herself by inviting him to come and live with them, in a room in the garage.
No, she's not thinking of falling in love with Jerry -- far from it -- but she knows her husband would be pleased to see his friend in a safe place, and after all Audrey and Jerry loved Brian more than anyone else in the world.
The film, directed by the talented Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier, centers on these two damaged people, who do not precisely help each other recover, but at least do not feel so alone. The screenplay by Allan Loeb is a first feature effort, but he has six more films in the works, including one announced by Ang Lee. Loeb is good at following the parallel advances and setbacks of his characters, and especially good at depicting how the children, 10-year-old Harper (Alexis Llewellyn) and 6-year-old Dory (Micah Berry, no relation), relate to the newcomer with resentment, then dependence, then uncertainty. The movie also accurately watches how a 12-step group works, especially in the character of the member Kelly (Alison Lohman), who keeps an eye on Jerry and alerts Audrey to a relapse.
Another affecting supporting performance is by John Carroll Lynch, as a tactful neighbor who steers Jerry toward a real-estate agent's license.
The key performance in the film is by Del Toro, who never overplays, who sidesteps any temptation to go over the top (especially in scenes of his suffering), and whose intelligence as a one-time lawyer shows through his street-worn new reality. He is puzzled and surprised that Audrey invites him into her home, but with his options, it's the best offer he'll ever receive. There is only one scene between them that is ill-advised, and indeed unbelievable, and you'll know the one I mean.
Bier has made two films I greatly admired, "Open Hearts" (2002) and "Brothers" (2005), but in her American debut she gets a little carried away with style, and especially with closeups, and very especially with closeups of eyes. I've never see this many great big eyes in a film: Berry's beautiful, Del Toro's bloodshot, the kids' twinkling or doubtful. The human face is the most fascinating subject for the camera, as Ingmar Bergman taught us, but its elements out of context can grow lonely.
I suppose we could be dubious about a great beauty like Halle Berry seeming to be unaware of the strangeness of asking a heroin addict to live in her garage. But I accepted her decision as motivated by a correct reading of what her husband might have wanted her to do. That question settled, the movie is an engrossing melodrama, and it has its heart in the right place.