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Blu-ray Reviews

HTF Blu-ray Review: Things We Lost in the Fire

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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   PatWahlquist


    Supporting Actor

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  • Join Date: Jun 13 2002

Posted March 20 2009 - 09:29 AM

Things We Lost in the Fire (Blu-Ray)

Studio: DreamWorks Home Video
Rated: R (for drug content and language)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
HD Encoding: 1080p
HD Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Spanish, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; English SDH+
Time: 118 minutes
Disc Format: 1 SS/DL BD
Case Style: Keep case
Theatrical Release Date: 2007
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 24, 2009

NOTE: With this review I am going to institute a star rating for the movie, the video and audio and the extras. HTF will be streamlining the format of our reviews soon so I am doing it in anticipation of that. These ratings are subjective and based on my evaluation of a given disc.

Brian and Audrey (David Duchovny and Halle Berry) are living a prosperous and loving life with their two children when tragedy strikes and Brian is gunned down. Audrey is naturally devastated about Brian’s death and she re-connects with Brian’s long time friend, Jerry (Benicio Del Toro). Jerry is a heroin addict who lives in a run-down apartment and he is continually trying to remain clean while Brian visits him regularly to give him a few extra bucks to get by. Audrey decides to visit Jerry and give him an opportunity to improve his life by living in her remodeled garage, which had previously been destroyed in a fire. Jerry moves in and he, Audrey and the kids form a relationship built on grief but also one that tries to help each of them get through a difficult time. Audrey becomes resentful of Jerry’s ability to get one of the kids to do what Brian never could, and she realizes their arrangement might not be the best for all involved. She asks Jerry to leave, but this decision may ultimately cause more harm than good.

Man, what a downer of a picture! Most stories do well enough with one of the following tragedies, but Things We Lost in the Fire takes on all of these: murder, drug abuse and addiction, transference, grief, loss, and crime. While director Susanne Bier does well at juggling all of these themes, I found the picture to be over wrought and cumbersome with little hope ever coming through. Jerry stays clean for a good portion of time after Brian’s death, but once he leaves his new living arrangement, he is too quick to jump right back into the life. Audrey’s reasoning behind her wanting Jerry to leave is driven from grief, but at the same time she refuses to acknowledge her subtle emotional enticement of Jerry. Del Toro turns in a great performance, specifically his ability to convey the pain of addiction. His look in this picture, as is usual in everything he’s in, draws us to him, watching his expressions and movements along with his somewhat droll delivery. Berry seems to be trying too hard for us, making some of her performance border on melodramatic.

While I’m not against pictures that have depressing themes (as evidenced by my love of last year’s brilliant Rachel Getting Married), the way in which Things We Lost in the Fire presents them leaves me melancholy and uninspired to try and move through them.

Movie: **/*****

Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 11-S1 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 1080p. I am using a Sony Playstation 3 Blu-Ray player while a Denon 3808CI does the switching and pass through of the video signal. I am utilizing the HDMI capabilities of each piece of equipment.

The Blu-Ray disc is encoded in the MPEG-4 AVC codec at 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The picture is shot very naturally (if slightly stylized) and the colors remain bold and lush while contrast looks slightly boosted. Due to the contrast, the picture shows some video noise upon up close viewing, but at my seat the image looked great. Flesh tones are accurate showing the differences in skin tones. Black levels are good with some very good detail. Detail and sharpness is spectacular resolving the close-ups particularly well. Bier uses these close-ups to some effect in the story, but for us fans of good looking HD images, these could be used as demo material. I was also very impressed with the image’s ability to resolve the fine detail in Jerry’s shirts. I did not notice any edge enhancement or DNR.

Video: ****/*****

The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack was attained by the HDMI connection of the PS3 to the Denon 3808CI.

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track is serviceable for this type of story as most of the action remains in the fronts and specifically the center channel. Jerry listens to music on his headphones and there are several scenes where the songs are prominently featured as if we are listening as him. When this is done, we are given a loud and beautifully accurate representation of the song. Once the headphones come off, we revert back to the soundtrack proper. Surround channels sounded excellent in the couple scenes in which they were utilized but then they are relegated to conveying basic atmospheric information. Panning effects are also infrequent, but effective when used. The volume level seemed a bit low as I had to boost the level by 5-10db over what I usually set it at. LFE’s come up infrequently and usually in support of the songs Jerry is listening to as I mentioned earlier. The soundtrack is clear, clean and free of any hiss or debris.

Audio: ***/*****

Bonus Material: all items are in SD unless otherwise noted.

A Discussion About Things We Lost in the Fire (20:25): this brief piece has a fairly in depth interview with the director and screenwriter and it seems like this would have been better as a feature length commentary. Berry, Duchovny and Del Toro contribute as well.

7 Deleted Scenes (9:33): the seven scenes were wisely excised from the picture as they would have made the feature plod along even slower.

Theatrical Trailer (HD).

Bonus Material: *.5/*****

While the story itself is a bummer, Del Toro gives us an excellent performance. The disc itself has near reference quality video and an audio track that can be really spectacular at times.
ISO "Lost" ARG prints from Kevin Tong, Olly Moss, Eric Tan and Methane Studios.  PM me if you want to sell!

All reviews done on a Marantz VP11S1 1080p DLP projector.

Displays professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen of Lion AV.

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