Things We Lost in the Fire: Only Benicio Del Toro Is Worth Saving

If you've always yearned to see Halle Berry's earlobe magnified to a hundred times its normal size, get yourself to a screening of Things We Lost in the Fire. In Danish director Susanne Bier's first American effort, the camera lingers so long and lusciously on its lead actress' perfect little pores that it quickly starts to resemble a Neutrogena commercial. Berry is fine in her limited role—she plays Audrey Burke, a Seattle bobo left widowed when her sainted husband, Brian (David Duchovny), is murdered—but Benicio Del Toro's a squinty-eyed genius, and the only reason this film is halfway worth seeing. His performance as Jerry, Brian's heroin-addicted best friend, brings to mind Jack Nicholson's antic magnetism in the days before he lapsed into self-parody. Outside of this excellence, you can expect the expected here: Audrey cries copiously, and Jerry bonds Full House–style with the cloyingly precocious (but gorgeous!) Burke children. There are some pitch-perfect moments of camaraderie between Jerry and a dorky, deadpan neighbor (John Carroll Lynch), but Audrey's helpless need for a male presence, and her odd inability to control her sexuality in the absence of her husband, made this feminist's skin crawl.

 
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