Director Susanne Bier has made a masterpiece before, "AFTER THE WEDDING," and an earlier film, "BROTHERS," being remade in English with Natalie Portman for a bigger American audience, was also quite powerful, if flawed. So, this reviewer was excited about seeing Bier's first "American" film, "THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE." Focusing on a beautiful young widow, whose husband has just been killed in a senseless act of violence, as she tries to pull her life together, the plot is filled with the kind of conflict and emotional drama Bier is so good with. The widow, Audrey(Halle Berry) is also mother of two young children, and when she somehow tries to work through her loss while connecting with the drug-addicted friend of her husband, whom she blames his death on, a spiral of events and catharsis begins to take place.
The acting is terrific, really "terrific" in every single moment! The direction, while deliberately, reflectively paced, is generally good(although not up to the standards of Bier's superior work), but the major problem with "THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE" is the script! It's all over the place!!! When the film begins to focus on the drug addiction of Audrey's husband's friend, Jerry(Benecio Del Toro), things come to an almost complete halt. It's not that there's not room for the story of Jerry's addiction and recovery process, it's just that it doesn't fit well with the rest of the film, and it hurts it substantially from where it seemed to be heading at the beginning.
Even with its major flaws coming around about 1/2 way into the film, "THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE" is sometimes brave, and, for at least the first half, original! The acting is so good, this film could serve as a template for aspiring actors to study from! With this in mind, one would be advised to rent this one before buying, but give it a shot, either way.
PARAMOUNT has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p.AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray. It's a stunning transfer! Bier knows how to compose a shot, and even with modest grain, everything feels natural throughout. Colors are always vivid, and the inky blacks provide sensational detail in the darker scenes. There are plenty of scenes that provide the kind of jump-off-the-screen depth one hopes for with this format! This is one of the most impressive looking blu-ray transfers we've seen all month.
PARAMOUNT has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. As with the theatrical presentation, surrounds are rarely emphasized. In fact, while some ambient effects pop up here and there, most of the film is center channel focused. Fidelity is excellent, and the mix feels completely natural and untainted. However, those wanting something immersive, will likely be disappointed. Even the music is intentionally restrained, rather than boosting all speakers.
Instead of a commentary, Bier provides a brief discussion of the film and its development. There are deleted scenes and a trailer.