© Universal Pictures International Germany GmbH

Things We Lost in the Fire
U.S.A./U.K. 2007

Opening 29 May 2008

Directed by: Susanne Bier
Writing credits: Allan Loeb
Principal actors: Halle Berry, Benicio del Toro, David Duchovny, Alexis Llewellyn, Micah Berry

Audrey Burke (Halle Berry) is a widow with two small children, Harper and Dory. Her deceased husband Brian is sorely missed, a good man who looked after the down-and-outs, such as a battered woman, which resulted in his death. One loser whom Audrey could have done without is Jerry (Benicio del Toro). Although she thought her husband wasted too much time on Jerry, in the end she invites him, a former lawyer, now recovering drug addict, to move into her house. The children like him; Brian’s old buddy Howard likes him. Finally, even Audrey sees his attributes, not for sex (as you might expect) but much as Brian did, as a man with potential to make something of himself.

The title is symbolic with a message, as in don’t cry over spilt milk or mourn for things long gone. Look to the future, the silver lining of happiness. Danish director Susanne Bier is well known to northern Germans with films like Brothers (which appeared in the Hamburg Film Festival) or After the Wedding. She was scheduled to be on the 2008 Berlinale jury, but cancelled at the last minute because of commitments in the U.S. Perhaps this is the first indication that her international career is taking off, filmed as it is in Vancouver (supposed to be Seattle) with international actors.

For me the film doesn’t work. Perhaps if it were in Danish with subtitles and unknown actors, it could be interesting in yet another festival. Somehow I expected a better plot for Berry and definitely for del Toro. Bier believes in the hand-held camera and often one person’s single eye covers the frame, so here’s looking at you Susanne; I’m sure you’ll do better next time. (Becky Tan)

The theaters below show films in their original language; click on the links for showtimes and ticket information.
Interviews with the stars, general film articles, and reports on press conferences and film festivals.
Subscribe to the free KinoCritics monthly email newsletter here.