"Things We Lost in the Fire" is the latest project from director Susanne Bier. Bier seems to prefer the films where storytelling is key, leaving the low-lying fruit of cinematic devices (CGI, explosions, sex scenes) to other films.
Audrey has to cope with the sudden death of her 37-year-old husband Brian (he interrupted a man beating his wife, the man shot and killed Steven, police apparently shot and killed the man, and the wife died... somehow). Audrey is not coping well, and while she doesn't understand how Brian is still friends with his childhood pal Jerry (she doesn't trust him mostly due to his ongoing heroin addiction); she's also keeping the household together for children Harper, 10, and Dory, 6.
After Audrey realizes Jerry may not be the crook addict she thought, she invites him to live at the house (partly to help him get his life on track, partly to help her do the same). Jerry seems to bridge the gap between the memories of Brian and someone who's known Brian since elementary school; he also snuggles with Audrey in bed so she can sleep (nothing more happens).
Halle Berry as Audrey and Benicio Del Toro as Jerry deliver winning performances end to end. The characters are plausible, and his coping of his heroin addiction wasn't treated with kid gloves. (He relapses at one point and goes through rather unpleasant withdrawals.) While I haven't had to watch such a thing in several years (work in a county jail in a past life), the depiction of Jerry's experience as the drugs worked out of his system.
The secondary characters plug into the storyline in a rather tidy way; the kids cope more or less as you'd expect for their ages and having just lost their father, right down to how they take to Jerry's living there as a surrogate for Brian (even Audrey, though she fights within herself the apparent inclination to lean on him).
A pretty good movie, and moves along at a decent pace with a cast that all mesh well. The script feels very real, as opposed to something that feels like a studio brought to theatres for a quick buck. And if they encourage you to "Accept the Good" -- a running message from Brian, then Jerry and Audrey -- all the better.
And if you're wondering about the title, Jerry is living in the family's garage; they had an electrical fire there last year, losing a lot of photos and "stuff," but as Brian told Audrey when she was stressed about what they lost, he reminded her it was only stuff, no one was hurt, and to embrace the good of a situation.