Things We Lost in the Fire

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -2

Halle Berry, Benicio Del Toro, David Duchovny, Omar Benson Miller, Alison Lohman, John Carroll Lynch. Written by Allan Loeb. Directed by Susanne Bier.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Audrey Burkes life has been shattered by the sudden death of her husband. In grief, she turns to one of his lifelong friends, Jerry Sunborne, a former lawyer who is on a serious downward spiral. Together, they work to repair their lives.

PREVIEW REVIEW: From what Im told, the high one gets from the first experiments with heroin is euphoric, a cloud nine experience unlike anything imaginable. And the addict will spend the rest of his or her life trying to recapture that feeling without success. Hell get high, hell find momentary escape, but hell never achieve that same rapture. And that desperate search will take on an importance that overshadows everything and everyone else in that persons life. Oh, how I wish that description would prevent at least one soul from experimentation. And thats what I think writer Allan Loeb intended for his film, Things We Lost in the Fire.

There have been several powerful anti-drug movies over the decades, one of the first and still the most powerful being Otto Premingers The Man With the Golden Arm, with Frank Sinatra in perhaps his best performance. This theme and its execution is effectively done here as well, despite director Susanne Biers gimmicky use of a hand-held camera, extreme close-ups and frame-jumping editing to tell the story. Im assuming the constant close-ups of the leading ladys eye, then that of the leading mans, must have some symbolic significance, but the overuse of this shot just jolts, taking us out of the intimacy of the scenes. Sergio Leoni used this technique in his spaghetti westerns. While it was fresh then, it quickly became tedious in his work and its completely ineffective with this type of film. Lest you think this is merely the opinion of a film critic, several of the exiting crowd at the screening mentioned this same distraction.

Ms. Berry overacts a bit. Not her fault. The director could have reined her in and brought out more depth in her character without the histrionics. She has one scene in particular, the big scene, where all the grief and anger explodes, giving us not so much a depiction of a grieving widow as much as a replay of her Monsters Ball Oscar acceptance speech. Both were heartfelt, but excessive.

There is much to be said in favor of this film. Its male star, Benicio Del Toro, gives a sympathetic, tender and insightful performance. Id like to see it acknowledged come award season (which is quickly coming upon us). The casting of supporting players is also worth note, from the neighbor/good friend to the leads two kids. There are several touching moments and the picture leaves us with the message, Hold on to the good. Enjoy, appreciate, and value one another. I guess that could mean, turn off the big screen cell phones when the movie begins. That would be a start.

Though the messages are powerful, if you prefer to view the subject of people facing drug or alcohol abuse without todays objectionable screen language, try my DVD alternative suggestions: The Man with the Golden Arm and The Days of Wine and Roses.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Paramount Pictures

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: One suggestive sexual conversation.

Obscene Language: All the grownups get to use the f-word in order to relay expressions of frustration, anger or the sex act; there are a couple of s-words and several minor expletives (damns and hells), but is the tried and true f-word that is screeched at least 15 times.

Profanity: I caught no misuse of Gods name or Christs.

Violence: We see a man kick a woman; he then shoots an innocent man trying to help the woman; later all three bodies are found dead.

Sex: There are a couple of intimate sexual moments between loving husband and wife, but it does not become graphic.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: A couple of sexual conversations.

Drugs: The male lead is a heroin addict. We see a vivid depiction of that world. It is not exploitive, nor does it glamorize drug use, but effectively warns against its use.

Other: None

Running Time: 119 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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