Things we Lost in the Fire – DVD Review

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Apparently Europeans don’t have the patent on pretentious melodrama anymore, as even American A-list actors can do Oscar-bait with relatively no shame. And while Things we Lost in the Fire may have been over-looked both for its box office receipts and during awards season, it remains proof that when it comes to making bad movies pandering to Oscar audiences there’s nothing quite like Hollywood originality to make it worth it.

Things we Lost in the Fire stars Halle Berry as Audrey, a woman whose husband (David Duchovny) has just passed. Emotionally broken she leans on his good friend and drug addict Jerry (Benicio del Toro). As he struggles with addiction, she struggles to move on with her life and help her children move on as well. It’s a character study, as Audrey uses Jerry as a surrogate to help her numb the pain of her husband’s death while simultaneously avoiding having to deal with it. For Jerry, his friend’s family becomes a stimulus to help him deal with the problems of his life.

If anything, the film disproves the notion that Berry’s a good actress. Somehow Halle Berry is considered in the acting elite for one role in one film, when all she ever did to win an Oscar was get naked on screen in nearly explicit ways with Billy Bob Thornton. It was stiff and wooden as her role as a Bond girl, and there’s nothing in Things we Lost in the Fire that is redeeming. Berry basically channels her Monster’s Ball performance on screen this time around, except without the nudity and sex scene, which is perhaps the reason why she didn’t get an Oscar nomination this time around. For an actress with such a high profile, its becoming further evident that Monster’s Ball was an anomaly on her record as her usual level of stiffness has returned since then. It’s the sort of performance one would find in a Lifetime made-for-TV movie.

It obscures a haunting performance from del Toro, who delivers another in a series of great and underrated performances that somehow manage to fall under the radar. As a junkie, del Toro has a broad template to work with. He manages to take the performance in a very realistic method, avoiding the usual pratfalls of cinematic substance abuse and delivering it with a reality that makes it hard to watch.

The film itself is painful, but not because of its subject matter. It’s because of its content. And while the Motion Picture Academy has a history of rewarding pretentious films, it wisely avoided Things we Lost in the Fire because it’s just not that good.

Presented in a Dolby Digital surround sound with a widescreen presentation, the film has a terrific audio/visual presentation. There are lots of subtle colors and sounds in the film which come through cleanly and clearly.

A Discussion About Things we Lost in the Fire is a look at the film. It’s a pretty interesting look at the film, showing how del Toro actually went to several Narcotics Anonymous meetings as well as consulted with a drug addiction specialist to be able to portray his character as accurate as possible. The feature is quite long, running over 20 minutes, and covers a lot of the film’s basic themes and motifs.

Deleted Scenes are included as well and, per usual, don’t add much back into the film.

The film’s Theatrical Trailer is included, as well as Previews for the DVD release of Into the Wild, the Scorsese documentary Shine A Light, the DVD releases of Beowulf and Margot at the Wedding as well as The Kite Runner.

In a year where there was a lot of good drama at the end, Things we Lost in the Fire stands out like a sore thumb because it’s an A-list cast and a D-list film. It has a good making of feature, which helps, but ultimately the film isn’t strong enough to carry it.


Dreamworks presents Things We Lost in the Fire. Directed by Susanne Bier. Starring David Duchovny, Halle Berry, Benicio del Toro. Written by Allen Loeb. Running time: 118 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: March 4, 2008. Available at