THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
March 11, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“A gut-wrenching, moving film with a magnificent performance by Benicio Del Toro.“
Images courtesy of © 2007 DreamWorks Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE
DURATION: 118 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
RATED: R (for Drug Content and Language)
COMPANY: DreamWorks Home Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2009
Directed by Susan Bier
Written by Allan Loeb
Produced by Sam Mendes and Sam Mercer
Executive Producers: Pippa Harris and Allan Loeb
Director of Photography: Tom Stern
Production Designer: Richard Sherman
Edited by Pernille Bech Christensen, Bruce Cannon, A.C.E.
Costume Designer: Karen Matthews
Music Supervisor: Susan Jacobs
Score by Johan Soderqvist
Themes by Gustavo Santaolalla
Casting by Debra Zane, C.S.A.
Halle Berry as Audrey Burke
David Duchovny as Brian Burke
Benicio Del Toro as Jerry Sunborne
Alexis Llewellyn as Harper Burke
Micah Berry as Dory Burke
John Carroll Lynch as Howard Glassman
Alison Lohman as Kelly
Omar Benson Miller as Neal
Academy Award winner Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro “give two of the year’s most brilliant performances” in the crtically acclaimed drama Things We Lost in the Fire. Audrey (Berry) is reeling after a terrible loss, and impulsively invites troubled life-long friend Jerry (Del Toro) to stay with her and her two children. With each other’s help, Audrey and Jerry discover hope and happiness in thier new lives. Directed by Oscar nominee Susanne Bier (After the Wedding), produced by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes, and also starring Golden Globe winner David Duchovny (The X-Files), Things We Lost int he Fire is a “truly moving and emotionally honest” film.
A gut-wrenching and moving film featuring a magnificent performance by Benicio Del Toro.
“THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE” brings popular award winning Dutch director Susanne Bier (“After the Wedding”, “Brothers”, “Open Hearts”) to America for her American directorial debut, screenwriter Allan Loeb and award winning producer Sam Mendes (known for producing “American Beauty” and “The Kite Runner”) together in a film starring three award winning talent Halle Berry, Benicio Del Toro and David Duchovny in a film about survival, family and friendship.
“THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE” is about a family that has been severely devastated by the death of the father Brian Burke (David Duchovny). With a funeral to plan, Audrey (Halle Berry) is frantically trying to make sure everything is set for the funeral but emotionally she’s trying to hold things together for her two children Harper (Alexis Llewellyn) and Dory (Micah Berry).
Audrey suddenly remembers that Brian’s friend Jerry, doesn’t know about his death and it’s important he comes to the funeral, so she sends her brother Neal (Omar Benson Miller) to go get him.
We are then treated to scenes from the past.
Brian Burke is a successful man with a loving family but it’s his long-lasting friendship with Jerry Sunborne (Benicio Del Toro) that bothers his wife Audrey (Halle Berry).
Jerry is a man who is an addict and pretty much lost all his friends. Once a successful businessman turned hardcore heroine user has brought him to his lowest point in his life. He’s tried to stay away from drugs to no avail. But Brian has always been there for him. And because of that, his wife Audrey worries about him.
In fact, Audrey and Brian get into arguments because she hates Jerry. She hates that her husband would put him so importantly in his life (even though he only visits him on his birthday in August) and keep a friend so troubled. But in the last birthday of Jerry, she insists that she had $60 in the cigarette compartment in the car and now it’s gone and blames Jerry. Brian sticks up for his friend.
Return back to the day of the funeral and Audrey asks Jerry to stay with them, which he agrees.
Jerry starts getting acquainted with the children who are devastated by their father’s death, Brian’s good friend Howard (John Carroll Lynch), uses his time to get into NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and hopefully get better while he stays with Audrey.
But Jerry is unclear why Audrey wants him to stay with her. In fact, if anything, Audrey is verbally abusive to him. Telling him that he should of died, not Brian. In her mind, Jerry was a part of Brian’s life but she gets bothered by how much Jerry knows about the family and certain things that Brian has never confided in his wife but only to him.
In fact, Audrey has created this shell around her of toughness that is spiteful and mean towards Jerry but a means of survival for her family and really not letting Brian’s death fully sink in. Jerry notices that and does what he can to help her and the kids, even if it means taking an emotional beating from her.
The film goes through various flashbacks with the relationship between Audrey and her husband, Brian and Jerry’s friendship and of course, how Brian died. So, you get a good sense of Brian’s character and how much meant to the family and to Jerry.
And through Jerry’s time with the family and helping the children, the children start to bond with Jerry because of his good friendship with their dad. In fact, it comes to the point where the kids want their mother to marry Jerry so that they would be a family again but for Jerry, as a best friend for Brian, he would never ever do such a thing or ever try to replace his best friend.
But she is pushed to the edge when her children open up to Jerry and do things that they have not done for her or Brian. Her son Dory for swimming class goes underwater, something that the parents were unable to do. And when Harper goes missing from school two days straight, Jerry knows where she is.
Audrey then goes ballistic because why are the kids opening up to him. Why does Brian tell Jerry things that she doesn’t know. She despises Jerry for that and kicks him out.
And for Jerry, having done so well without drugs is now homeless and relapses and now in a terrible state.
As for Audrey, her children are disappointed that Jerry is gone but when she gets a call from Kelly (a former user and friend of Jerry at NA), who is worried that Jerry has stopped going to NA and may have relapsed.
Listening to her children, she realizes that by sending out Jerry to no home and with nothing, she may have sent him to his death.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE” is featured in 1080p High Definition and picture quality is very good. So, good that we get to see skin pores of Benicio Del Toro quite well. Outdoor scenes and scenes with a lot of lighting are colorful and vibrant and low light conditions or darker scenes, I didn’t see excess grain or any artifacts. Overall, picture quality was well done.
As for the audio, audio is presented in English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD and French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. Audio is primarily dialogue-based, so no need for special effects or rear channel usage. But there are scenes that utilize classic rock and music and the music does come clear through your front channel speakers. Overall, dialogue and music is quite clear.
For the special features, the following are included:
- A Discussion About “Things We Lost in the Fire” – A featurette which includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Susanne Bier, Allan Loeb, Halle Berre, Benicio Del Toro and David Duchovny in regards to working with each other, their characters and their thoughts of working on the film. Informative and really good insight of the film. Especially Benicio talking about researching the role for his character. What Susanne wanted to accomplish in the film and more.
- 7 Deleted Scenes – Seven scenes that were deleted from the film. Judging on the scenes that were cut, they were cut more for pacing.
- Theatrical Trailer HD – The trailer for “THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE” in HD.
I wish there was commentary by Susanne Bier, Allan Loeb or even the talent included on this Blu-ray disc but otherwise, the featurette included was quite enjoyable and informative.
“THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE” is indeed one of the better films about life after death and also dealing with drug addiction. Benicio Del Toro’s performance as a person who has troubles in his life due to the drugs is just magnificent. From his bloodshot eyes and then having to go through massive withdrawals, if you thought Gene Hackman’s withdrawal scene was intense for the 1978 film “French Connection II”, Benicio Del Toro’s performance just blows that out of the water. Just a magnificent performance.
As much as I did enjoy the film, there were some problems that I couldn’t ignore.
Granted, I can accept Audrey letting a heroin user to be around her kids. As farfetched as it may sound, the fact is that her husband trusted him and I think Audrey gave him the benefit of the doubt.
But what I did have a major problem with is a scene where she could not sleep and thus goes to Jerry in the middle of the night and asks him to join her on the bed and do certain things. I’m not going to say much after that but that scene was so unbelievable that I would have cut that segment out.
As for Halle Berry who plays Audrey. Berry does a good job but her character at first is really unpleasant. Most films, you tend to grive for the widow but in “THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE”, it’s really interesting how you start to feel sympathy towards the drug user. And as for Audrey, you do feel sympathy of her losing her husband and having to raise the kids alone but at the same time, her verbal abuse towards Jerry and this anger she manifests (keeping Brian’s death in and never really letting anything out) in the first half of the film, doesn’t make Audrey a pleasant person.
David Duchovny does a good job of playing a loving husband and father and a good friend for Jerry. Of course, despite Audrey’s feeling towards Jerry, Duchovny’s character Brian doesn’t want to argue or fight about it. He understands that’s how his wife feels but for Jerry, that’s his friend since they were kids and he is not going to let him down and thus is always there for him on his birthday.
And for the child actors, both Alexis Llewellyn and Halle Berry’s son Micah Berry did a good job as well. Overall, all major talents and the child talents did a good job but Benicio Del Toro’s performance really made this film come alive.
Otherwise, “THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE” was a good film about two people who are trying to survive. Audrey with the death of her husband and Jerry with the death of his best friend and being a habitual drug user.
Despite both individuals being from different worlds, they are bonded by their relationship with Brian and thus they need each other at that moment in their lives to survive. The film is about survival, family and friendship.
Overall, a moving film, gut-wrenching but yet heartwarming film. And thankfully for Benicio Del Toro’s amazing performance, definitely made the film much more enjoyable.
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