2.5 out of 5 stars.

“Things We Lost in the Fire”

At Quality 16 and Showcase

Dreamworks

No one really talks about going through people withdrawal. It’s mentioned in passing, that ache to call up a former lover or significant other, that itch of communication we all want to scratch. We want to think about addiction to love, not the messy, black side of love lost.

It’s this relationship “Things We Lost in the Fire” tries to explore. It goes so far as to juxtapose the shakes and anger of the heroin addict Jerry Sunborne (Benicio Del Toro, “Traffic”) and the breakdown of Audrey Burke (Halle Berry, “Monster’s Ball”) after she accepts her husband’s death. The connection between the two storylines and two battles make up the heart of the film and the lead characters’ bond. Both feel loss, one for a husband, the other for a friend, and try to find some way to come out of the dark place where grief and addiction brought them.

It just about works. Del Toro shines quietly, and Berry’s eyes show pain at every close up, but you can’t help feel as if both actors have their eyes on the prize ahead. This is a prestige movie, and though it has moments of true understanding for what it means to be addicted to a life that can never be again, it still is a contrived piece of art, tempting like a drug but never completely satisfying.

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