Saturday, February 20, 2021

For Benicio Del Toro Fans

 I saw this movie at a screening in New York City. I was at the screening because I'd be reviewing the movie on the live weekday morning national radio show Whoopi Goldberg had at the time. (Yes. One of the most memorable yet surreal points of my career was the two years I went to work and sat right next to an Oscar-winning show biz icon so we could both perform on-air.) The 2007 film was THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE directed by Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier (AFTER THE WEDDING and HBO's THE UNDOING starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant). I felt THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE had Halle Berry's best performance following her historic Best Actress Oscar win for MONSTER'S BALL (2001). For us Benicio Del Toro fans at the screening, we felt he was in top form in Bier's film. However, a huge number of moviegoers missed this movie. Ironically, the weekend it opened nationally, Southern California was being devastated by massive wildfire. In the Los Angeles area, a major market for movies, regular programming was interrupted for live coverage of the fire. It was also a lead story in the network newscasts. Instead of going to the movies, folks in some sections of Southern California were being told to evacuate. So I want to remind Benicio Del Toro fans of this film right now.

Director Susanne Bier deals with families experiencing a sudden emotional collapse due to dramatic events. THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE deal with grief, recovery, love and forgiveness. Halle Berry and David Duchovny play a happily married couple with two kids. The husband has a generous, giving and compassionate heart. His longtime friend, Jerry, is a recovering drug addict. The husband was a great help to Jerry when others would have discarded him from their lives. Audrey, his wife (Berry) is one such person who would've discarded Jerry. The husband dies being a Good Samaritan. Jerry attends the funeral.

Click onto the link and watch the short theatrical trailer for the film:

I read a couple of reviews by local, not widely-known critics who didn't think the married couple resembled a typical family. My sense was that the criticism was based in the couple being interracial. In 2007, while promoting the film, Halle Berry called the marriage "the American family of the 21st Century." Look at TV commercials today. Notice how many interracial married couples we see in some of them. Halle Berry was right.

There are times when THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE may seem like an above average made-for-TV movie, but stay with it. There's nothing pompous as Susanne Bier's direction. It keeps a middle-class sensibility about it. As for Halle Berry, she's very good in this, landing the kind of role that does not usually go to Black actresses. She's not a maid, she's not a housekeeper, she's not a financially-struggling single working mother living in an under-served community, she's not a poor sharecropper's wife. She's a suburban mother trying to work through grief and other complicated emotions while forming a new life after her sudden loss. I think you'll appreciate the heartfelt performances. Especially Del Toro's.

You can stream it on YouTube and Amazon Prime.


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