Susanne Bier‘s Things We Lost in the Fire — a film I went nuts over last October, largely but not entirely because of Benicio del Toro‘s landmark performance as a recovering heroin addict — will be out on DVD tomorrow from Paramount Home Video.
In honor of this, here’s (a) my original review, (b) a highly perceptive, beautifully written assessment of Del Toro’s performance by the Houston Chronicle‘s Josh Rosenblatt, and (c) my explanation about why Fire or Del Toro’s performance never got any awards-season traction.
“There can there can be no beating around the bush about Del Toro’s performance as Jerry the junkie, a once-successful lawyer who’s slid down into the pit,” I wrote. “Over the course of this two-hour film he climbs out of his drug hole, brightens up, chills out and settles in, relapses, almost dies, and then gradually climbs out of it again. I’m starting to see this actor as almost God-like. He’s holding bigger mountains in the palm of his hand, right now, than De Niro held in the ’70s and ’80s. He’s one of the top four or five superman actors we have out there. There isn’t a frame of his performance that doesn’t hit some kind of behavioral bulls-eye.
Del Toro has “managed to top even himself [in this film],” Rosenblatt wrote. “His Fire performance is right up there with the best screen turns, not just of his generation but of all time: Brando in On the Waterfront. Hopkins in Nixon. Washington in Training Day. Rarefied air. He imbues Jerry with such life, such ambiguity, such unsentimental complexity and depth that you can’t help but feel you’re watching the most intricately mapped depiction of addiction and strained humanity the film world has ever given us.”
The Stranger‘s Andrew Wright wrote that “you’re mainly going to be watching Del Toro, who somehow slinkys and random-tangents his way into a fully realized being who’s never more soulful than when he’s dealing with the monkey on his back. The film has yet to be made that fully does justice to Del Toro’s alien transmissions, but Bier comes awfully close.”