Things We Lost In the Fire
Directed by Susanne Bier
Starring Halle Berry, Benicio Del Toro
Things We Lost in the Fire shows us that life is not fair, bad things happen to good people, good people aren’t always good, and bad people aren’t always as bad as we think. Even though most of the performances are good, Things We Lost in the Fire felt unnatural and at times, even trite.
Alone, without her now deceased husband Steven (David Duchovny), Audry (Halle Berry) has to begin to rebuild her and her children’s lives. She remembers, at the last minute, Steven’s drug-addicted friend Jerry (Benicio Del Toro) had yet to be invited to the funeral. After the funeral and after some soul searching, Audry decides to invite Jerry to live in her garage.
I was impressed by how delicately the writer, Allan Loeb, depicted marital intimacies outside of sex. It honed in on something special my husband and I shared. It made Steven and Audry more realistic and human than any steamy sex scene action would. Too bad Loeb couldn’t save the rest of the movie from feeling contrived.
As best I can explain, Things We Lost in the Fire is like a puzzle. The pieces all fit together correctly, but there is no clear picture when it is assembled. Berry, Del Toro, the children — Alexis Llewllyn, who plays daughter Harper and Micah Berry who plays son Dory — all give good performances, but they feel like they are acting independent of each other, trying to remember their lines, like actors in a junior high school play. There is no interrelationship chemistry, no perceivable emotional investment, no soul deep emoting. It was a topical, well-rehearsed characterization of the people they are supposed to be in the film.
If “Most Cuteness in a Supporting Role” were a legitimate voting category in the Academy Awards, and if I were a voting member, Micah Berry and Alexis Llewllyn would be top contenders for the awards. Who can resists people under 15 with wild and humongous afros and ridiculously adorable eyes that well like puppies begging for some steak. I know I can’t. I suspect it will be as difficult for the average audience member, with a soul, to resist their adorability in Things We Lost in the Fire.
Things We Lost in the Fire isn’t a waste of film, screaming for a massive warehouse inferno, but it’s not going to make audiences awash in cinematic sparks.