DEBORAH AMOS, host:
Another film opening this weekend explores more personal themes - family, drug addiction, and a loss of a spouse. Kenneth Turan has a review.
KENNETH TURAN: "Things We Lost in the Fire" is rough going at times, and not just because of its downbeat examination of the ways people deal with catastrophic loss. Halle Berry does her best work since winning an Oscar for "Monster's Ball." She plays a wife and mother whose husband is killed early in the film.
The superb Benicio Del Toro plays Jerry, an off-and-on heroin addict who is especially close to her husband. Jerry is as much at a loss as the widow is. With nothing in common except the dead man, these two gradually move towards a connection that may allow each of them to find reasons to keep living.
This story certainly has its moment of self-conscious earnestness. But whenever you are about to give up, there's a knockout dramatic moment between Berry and Del Toro. Their relationship is dynamite, set off by things as small as swimming lessons.
(Soundbite of movie, "Things We Lost in the Fire")
Ms. HALLE BERRY (Actress): (As Audrey) What you did today broke my heart.
Mr. BENICIO DEL TORO (Actor): (As Jerry) What did I do?
Ms. BERRY: (As Audrey) You got Dory to put his head under the water. It was something that Brian tried and tried to get Dory to do, but he couldn't. And that victory today, of getting Dory's head to go under, was not supposed to be yours. It wasn't meant for you to have that moment.
Mr. DEL TORO: (As Jerry) I'm sorry.
TURAN: The great thing about Danish director Susan Bier is her willingness to deal seriously and unapologetically with the strongest possible emotions. Bier's ear for English is erratic, but her ability to animate the white hot core of "Things We Lost in the Fire" makes it very much worth seeing.
AMOS: Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic Kenneth Turan.
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