Cover Art and Menus: 5/10
The cover of this DVD is just photos of Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro. It is not a bad cover, but I would have liked a bit more than two shots of the stars of the film. It just seems a bit cheap, as there is nothing about the film included. It is not bad, but it definitely isn’t great either. To me it is kind of poignant that the cover is just these two actors because the story is about feelings, addiction, and drama, but without the brilliant acting of these two actors it would be just a shell of a movie.
The menus are, remarkably enough, the same static shot of Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro. And while I will forgive them for using the shot of the two main actors on the cover, using it for both the cover and the menu just seems lazy to me.
There are not a lot of extras included with the Things We Lost in the Fire DVD. The first extra included are deleted scenes. There are seven included, and while they do showcase Benicio Del Toro’s acting (as just about every scene in this movie does), the scenes don’t add much to the film, and they would have made a long movie seem even longer.
The second extra is a short entitled A Discussion About Things We Lost in the Fire. This is just a feature that details the making of the film, with commentary from the Director and actors about different aspects of making the movie. It is not bad, and worth a look for sure.
That is it for extras. The DVD itself seems to skimp just a bit on the cover, menus, and extras.
Things We Lost in the Fire is a movie about Audrey (Halle Berry) losing her husband to a act of violence. Brian (David Duchovny) is out getting ice cream when he tries to help a woman who is being beaten by her husband, who ends up shooting Brian as he calls for help. Audrey and Brian have two kids, and the rest of the film deals with Audrey’s loss and struggle to find an emotional way to cope. Berry is good in this role, and I honestly think that if Del Toro had not ben opposite her, I would have gone on and on about how solid a performance she turns in. That being said, this movie for me revolves around Benicio Del Toro, who plays Brian’s life-long friend Jerry, who from the moment he turns up at the funeral, basically dominates the film. Jerry is the friend that Audrey hates, who takes u p too much of Brian’s time, and as we find out, is a heroin addict, who Brian supports and drops in on from time to time. Brian is the one friend who has never given up on Jerry, and Audrey is not fond of Brian “wasting time” on such a lost cause.
Jerry shows up at the funeral, invited at the last minute by Audrey. He is obviously shaken by the loss of his best friend, and while Audrey and Jerry talk for a bit, the feelings between them remain strained. Jerry immediately connects with Audrey’s kids, even though they do not seem to know him initially.
Soon afterwards, Audrey decides to check in on Jerry, who states that he has relapsed since the funeral. In a move that not even Audrey seems to understand, she invites the addict to stay at her house in a room that is empty. The rest of the film deals with the struggle of recovering from the loss of Brian, and the recovery from addiction. Audrey and Jerry grow close on many levels, only to have their struggles tear them back down again. It is a dramatic see-saw of good days and bad, and dealing with the new problems as they present: day to day.
By staying at the house, Jerry becomes close to Audrey’s children, who are themselves dealing with the loss of their father. Jerry helps around the house, and deals with not only a surrogate family, but the introduction of a few of Audrey’s neighbors who generally like Jerry, and try to help him out. It is a nice view of the recovering addict as a person instead of a monster, and Del Toro’s portrayal of a addict who still has a moral compass is refreshing. There is good with the bad, and as he states to both Brian and Audrey, you have to accept the good in life.
While the story itself is a bit overdone, the acting and the cinematography are quite good. I was underwhelmed by the story itself, and the movie’s pace borderlined on tedious at points, but honestly the acting here was superb. Even the short turn by Ducovny was nicely done and not overstated. Again, Halle Berry was great as an emotionally mixed up widow, but Del Toro was heads and feet above the rest. From the moment he shows up at the funeral, it is hard to not watch fully watch him. As he stands at the funeral, there is a shot that rotates around him as he takes in all of the emotion of the moment. While I actually thought the shot lasted too long, the emotion from Del Toro’s face was palpable.
For me, Berry and Del Toro’s acting dragged me into the film by making me interested in the characters. I will admit that this is not a great film, but the acting is worth a view itself. While the story had potential, it just wasn’t what it needed to be, but overall the movie was good.
Video & Audio: 7/10
The DVD is presented in widescreen format, and the video was nicely done. Some of the cinematography is a bit soft, and the colors were at times for me a bit off (as if it was meant to be drab at times). That said, I thought the presentation on the DVD was nicely done, and the style of cinematography gave stark face tones that really seemed to add to the feeling that this was not about characters who were at their best. The feeling of pain and sorrow was reflected in the faces of both Del Toro and Berry, without the use of lots of make-up (but even without lots of make-up, it was hard to make Berry look worn down.)
The 5.1 Surround Sound was well done, but underwhelming as a whole. This is not the type of movie where the surround sound is utilized to a large degree, and it therefore was not really an issue. I did find that the music was a bit too loud for the rest of the film, but overall the audio was fine.
This movie is not great, but the acting in it is superb. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of either Berry or Del Toro, or anyone who likes character development. The pacing is slow, and the story is not very deep, but watching del Toro in this film is wonderful. I would highly recommend this as a rental.
Overall Score 6/10