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Things We Lost in the Fire

Posted Date: 10 December 2008 at 03:18:56PM

Things We Lost in the Fire (2007)

Director: Susanne Bier

Genre: Drama

Run time: 118 mins


KHC were privileged to attend the Screen Australia for IndiVision screening of Susanne Bier's, Things We Lost in the Fire, last night at The Chauvel Cinema in Paddington. There was a special Q&A session with the Danish Director after the show.


Things We Lost in the Fire, starring Halle Berry, Benicio Del Toro, David Duchovny and Alison Lohman, is a fluorescent film. Fluorescent because this is a prominent word in themovie and literally means lit from within. This simple definition quoted by Duchovny's character, Steven, in the first lines of dialogue, is of a word commonly used to describe overhead lighting or flashing street signs. In this case, it sets the tone for the film and, during heightened scenes of human struggle and raw grief, remains a glowing reminder of the overlying theme of hope.


Berry and Del Toro play a grieving widow, Audrey Burke, and her late husband's (Duchovny) unlikely best friend, Jerry, an affable heroin addict whose life is a shambles. After Steven dies, Audrey invites Jerry to live in their garage. The grieving family gives Jerry's life new purpose while his masculine presence gives them solace in times of confronting grief. Bier's expert use of provocative, yet strangely comforting, extreme close ups reveal Del Toro's face at once light and shadow filled. The viewer can't help but fall hopelessly in love with the planes of his face and the gentle hero he becomes to his late friend's family.


Berry's portrayal of a widow trying desperately to dam up a tidal wave of grief is so strong that it is in direct contrast to her buttery beauty. Bier uses flashbacks to convey the authentically beautiful marriage between Audrey and Steven. True love wrapped in the folds of everyday married life with children. Contented bliss speckled with arguments, tenderness, passion, a dash of humour. Given this window into a perfect marriage, or at least as perfect as any marriage could be, Berry's picture of a wife's retreat into the chasm between remembering what was and tolerating what is, actually is, perfect.


This is a film that provokes an array of emotions and reactions from the viewer: sadness, joy, anger, compassion, empathy, fear. The heavy subject matter deals with grief and drug addiction, yet this film was a joy to watch even in its darkest hour. It is an artfully directed human story. It is moving and, as Bier herself would hope for any film, it is highly entertaining.






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