Things We Lost in the Fire 

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A tenuous friendship between a young mother (Halle Berry) and her recently deceased husband's best friend, a long-time junkie (Benicio Del Toro), may be the balm a troubled family needs. Berry is respectable if detached, in a somnambulant grief state, while Del Toro, who can play shaggy loser in his sleep, offers more nuance. It's good to see Hollywood slow down a potentially sensational drama into small everyday moments, but Things We Lost can't help but be compromised by its surface sheen -- the impossibly good-looking family, in a gorgeous home, without a financial worry -- that makes the drama feel like it's occurring in a high-end consumer catalog. As in her recent wealthy-family-in-crisis drama, the Danish film After the Wedding, director Susanne Bier favors extreme facial close-ups, particularly of eyes; it's a tic that grows gimmicky in its overuse, and when the camera zoomed in on Berry, I mostly recalled her work for Revlon. Starts Fri., Oct. 19. (AH)


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