A review of “Things We Lost in the Fire” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: **

Rating: R for language, violence and drug use

Run Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes



          Overwrought indies aren’t typically my thing and this achingly angsty melodrama does little to alter my thinking.

           Audrey and Brian Burke (Halle Berry and David Duchovny) are the happy, loving parents of two cherubic youngsters who live in stylish, movie-worthy digs and dream of a rosy future.

          The only fly in their ointment is Brian’s childhood friend Jerry (Benicio del Toro), a careworn heroin addict to whom Brian is inexplicably and fiercely loyal.

          A senseless accident leaves Audrey a widow and Jerry without his support system. Sooner rather than later Audrey steps into the void, reaching out a hand to honor Brian’s memory but resenting the hell out of Jerry’s persistent presence.

          All the predictable notions apply – the rebuilding, the recovery, the setbacks – while Audrey struggles to make sense of God’s Big Plan. The unlikely duo of widow and junkie form a foundation based on something akin to love. Cue the violins.

          In Berry’s world it appears dowdy means being taken seriously as an actress (think “Monster’s Ball”) and she downplays her dazzling beauty with fierce attention to detail. Fortunately del Toro does nothing of the sort, wallowing in the ugly emotional scum and violent truths of addiction with motivational clarity and a sporadic smile that feels like a gift.

          Danish director Susanne Bier has an irritating penchant for lingering macro close-ups meant to convey a mood. Just another notion in a mixed bag of concepts wrapped in a redemptive cocoon.