Making the Grades
It is an exceptional situation when Parent Previews recommends a US R-rated title, however Things We Lost in the Fire is an exceptional movie. Still, we strongly caution parents that this title features explicit drug use and includes at least fifteen uses of a sexual expletive -- often within a sexual context.
So why the recommendation? Because this powerful film delivers an important message about love, compassion and the dire consequences of drug addiction, which warrants careful consideration for viewing by anyone who is being tempted to try drugs or is in the desperate situation of drug dependency. As well, it portrays ways we can deal with grief through caring for others and putting our own feelings of anger and judgment aside.
Halle Berry stars as Audrey Burke, a Seattle suburbanite who, in the opening minutes of the movie, learns her husband Brian (David Duchovny) has been shot during a heroic attempt to protect a woman from her physically abusive husband. Picking up the pieces of her shattered life and marriage that was brimming with love and devotion, she puts her grief aside and stoically determines to continue making things as normal as possible for her daughter Harper (Alexis Llewellyn) and son Dory (Micah Berry).
Yet her husband's legacy of loving and caring lives on, and is particularly personified in Jerry (Benicio Del Toro), a pal of Brian's since grade school. Despite Jerry's rough exterior and seemingly hopeless existence as a long-suffering heroin addict, Brian continued to visit regularly (often without Audrey's blessing), making sure to conveniently leave a few groceries behind for his dysfunctional friend.
Now Audrey angrily wonders why Jerry, who lives a risk-filled life in a dangerous neighborhood, is still alive while her kind-hearted husband is dead. At the same time, she is curious about the man her husband extended so much love toward. Sensing she has perhaps misjudged him, she extends the use of her new garage -- recently rebuilt after a fire -- to give Jerry an opportunity to live outside of his drug-filled environment.
This movie isn't an "easy" watch, but you won't be counting the minutes either. The first half is presented in a non-linear fashion, meaning we jump in time -- a technique used too often lately, and typically not to the betterment of the story. Yet in this case, the creators are able to anticipate our exact questions and provide us with just enough details to fill us in on Jerry and Brian's back-story. This is enhanced by spectacular performances from virtually every face on the screen, including the two children.
The repeated use of the sexual expletives is unfortunate, and in my view unnecessary. It may also prevent the film from being seen by a wider audience. The short scene of the husband kicking and abusing his wife (with some blood shown) may be bothersome as well. But in the end, it is difficult to deny the important, creatively delivered message this film holds. One of those rare instances where the moral might just overshadow the negative content, parents may want to consider sharing Things We Lost in the Fire with their oldest teens.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Things We Lost in the Fire.
How does extending assistance to Jerry allow Audrey to cope with and eventually move past her grief? Do you think we provide enough encouragement to serve others in our society? How can the experience with helping someone else affect the way you feel about yourself?
Heroin addiction is a serious problem, and some people fall into the false belief that using it in a non-injective form will avoid addiction. For more information on overcoming this and other substance dependencies, check www.drug-rehab.com.