This was another film lost in the box office in the fall of 2007. Yet, its poor financial performance doesn't take away from this movie's amazing quality. I didn't discover it until it was released on DVD in March, but I'm glad I did.
Halle Berry stars as in this heart-breaking tale of a woman who takes a heroin addict, played by Benicio del Toro, into her home, while she and her two children are coping with a recent death in the family.
Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier directed this movie. Bier was nominated for the Oscar last year for her equally heart-wrenching story "After the Wedding." Here, Bier brings the same inner-scoping human reality. This is not a highly plot-driven story, and it doesn't get too steeped in melodrama.
In the hands of a lesser director, or even lesser actors, it could have merely been another weepy tearjerker, but it's not. Berry and del Toro provide interesting character studies of these people's lives. Bier's film-lens then becomes the microscope through which we examine them.
We start with Berry who plays Audrey Burke. Audrey is trying to hold onto and connect with the last thing her husband held onto before he died. She's also attempting to maintain a strong, brave face when she's burning down inside.
Del Toro plays Jerry Sunborne, a heroin addict who is a little envious of the good and beautiful life that Audrey and her husband Brian have. Jerry reluctantly enters it and finds himself slowly settling into it, becoming comfortable, almost like a normal husband or father. Yet, can he settle into that life, or is it too much for him to handle?
I think underlying this film is the idea that in life we can try to hold onto things that we think are important, or things we want, but we may lose those things, whether it be to fire or gunfire. How we deal with those losses is just as important, however, and through this movie we learn that. We also learn that it's OK if we breakdown. We don't have to be brave and strong all the time.
Bier beautifully photographs the story, cutting together deeply, probing close-ups of character's eyes. Recalling a wise man that once said the eyes are the windows to the soul, Bier almost invites us into these people's souls and experiences. Yet she makes the film very poetic. The small supporting performances from David Duchovny, Omar Benson Miller and John Carroll Lynch also add so much richness to this already thickly layered movie. Bravo!
Five Stars out of Five
Rated R for drug content and language
Running Time: 1 hr. and 58 mins.