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Things We Lost in the Fire is the sort of deliberately-paced, melodramatic family tear-jerker that seems to usually drive the Academy wild. With a bit more cohesion and, more importantly, a lot more box office dollars this film may have gone somewhere.

Which isn’t to say I particularly liked it. I found it decent at best and strangely distant for a film that relies so much on heavy emotion. And I think a lot of that is because almost all of the characters felt wrong.

The film follows Halle Berry’s Audrey, a widow after her husband is murdered, and her two children. It turns out that Brian, the dead husband played in flashbacks by David Duchovny, was pretty much a saint that everybody loved. His childhood friend is Jerry, a down-on-his-luck drug addict played by Benicio Del Toro. Brian has always supported Jerry despite Audrey’s wishes. After Brian’s death she decides to take Jerry in, I guess as sort of a nod to her husband’s kindness.

Jerry ends up becoming like the surrogate Brian to everyone in Brian’s life and the film becomes sort of unintentionally creepy. There’s will they or won’t they tension with Audrey, Brian’s neighborhood pal insists Jerry go running with him like Brian used to, and Jerry gets involved in the children’s lives. Throughout it all I found myself connecting only with unstable, distant, addicted Jerry. With every conflict we’re supposed to be following Jerry’s internal struggle but really all I saw in him was what I was thinking, which was, “This is really weird, right??” Read the rest of this entry »

April 2008