Monday, October 29, 2007

Review: "Things We Lost in the Fire"

Halle Berry's post-Oscar win role choices have been questionable at best, starring in clunkers like Catwoman and Gothika, a far cry from her career defining work in Monster's Ball. So I was glad to see that her role in Susanne Bier's Things We Lost in the Fire was a return to the challenging work that shows off her immense skills as an actress. However the film itself still doesn't measure up. While not a disaster on the level of the aforementioned films, it is still not a film worthy of the immense talent on display here.

That doesn't stop Berry from being stunning in the role of Audrey Burke, a widow grieving the tragic death of her husband (David Duchovny) who takes in her husband's heroin addicted best friend Jerry (Benicio Del Toro, in yet another great performance) in an effort to finish the work her husband started, but also to fill a void in her life where her husband once was.

It all makes for an acting showcase for those involved, but the final product is little more than a soap opera. Berry and Del Toro are both wonderful, and deserve all the praise they can get for their performances. Del Toro's performance is nothing short of remarkable. His portrait of drug addiction is one of the most harrowing I've seen, and Berry's grieving wife and mother is just as powerful. But Things We Lost in the Fire is dull, plodding, and aimless. If it weren't for them there would be little redeeeming about it. I kept waiting for the commercials and proclamations of it being a "Lifetime Original Movie."

I wanted to like it, I really did. A film that is so masterfully acted should be better than this. But it's not. It is a predictable retread of so many films that have come before it...many that were made for TV. Which is where this belongs.

Every plot development is spotted a mile away, partly out of inevitability but also out of cliche. Bier attempts to create a naturalistic, slice-of-life character piece - but the result is just boring and unfocused.

The supporting cast, however, is also top notch, especially Alexis Llewellyn and Micah Berry (Halle's real life son) as Audrey's children.

Things We Lost in the Fire is not a horrible movie, but it just goes nowhere. And it could have been so much more. Despite terrific performances, the film sinks without ever developing its own personality. It may very well be the worst well-acted movie of the year.


GRADE - **

THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE; Directed by Susanne Bier; Stars Halle Berry, Benicio Del Toro, David Duchovny, Alexis Llewellyn, Micah Berry, John Caroll Lynch, Alison Lohman; Rated R for drug content and language

1 comment:

nick plowman said...

I am writing my review of this right now...I cannot believe you hated it! Wow