Lost and Gone
“Things We Lost In The
Fire”: A formerly
happily-ever-after family is star-crossed by sudden tragedy. Steven
(David Duchovny), happening across a man beating a woman, impulsively
steps into the middle of a violent domestic dispute, and winds up
being part of the body count. His
wife Audrey (
) gets the horrible, dreaded visit from the two police officers at her
front door. Her
brother and mother immediately arrive to support her, and she
dispatches her brother just before the funeral to go find and inform
the one friend of her husband’s who probably wouldn’t have heard
the news, because he’s an active drug addict.
Jerry (Benecio Del Toro) was Steven’s best friend in
elementary school, and improbably, they have kept up with each other,
mainly because Steven’s a very loyal guy.
Jerry’s appearance at the funeral creates awkwardness all
around, because Audrey never understood why Steven had to maintain the
relationship in the first place.
But Jerry and Audrey kind of make a truce, enough so that when
Jerry starts the long road to recovery, Audrey offers him the garage,
easily converted into living space because of a recent fire which
destroyed all the previous contents. (“Things We Lost In The Fire”
included all the old photographs, and other memorabilia, and now
it’s as if that old life didn’t exist at all.)
Not surprisingly, Jerry and Audrey begin to develop a grudging
respect. But his interest
in her two children just makes her angry (her husband should have seen
her son learn to swim). She
asks him to leave. He
does, and then relapses. She
feels guilty and takes him back in, but this time his recovery
includes figuring out how to live on his own, which is, of course,
what she has to do, as well. This
movie is notable for its lack of anything remotely resembling the
spiritual, other than the Central Casting minister at the funeral,
from a distance. It’s
as if God is absent. And
isn’t returning soon.
The same dismal atmosphere
prevails in “Gone Baby Gone,” except the swearing is much more
pervasive, and so is the personal corruption.
A baby-faced young private detective in
named Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) is hired by the distraught Aunt
of a missing three-year-old child.
The family thinks that the police aren’t doing enough to find
the kidnappers. So our
novice but fearless detective takes his young “assistant” Angie
(Michelle Monaghan) and pokes around into the squalid underbelly of
the family’s life, including the sordid activities of the child’s
mother, Helene (Amy Ryan), who is apparently a drug user and
“mule,” and whose “friends” are seamier than she is.
Everybody’s tough, everybody’s got a hard exterior and a
gutter mouth, including the cop on the case (Ed Harris).
The only suave, well-spoken character is the police chief
(Morgan Freeman), but in this emotional labyrinth, civility is
suspect, and nice guys aren’t to be trusted, because it could be a
con. Based on the Dennis
Lehane novel, and featuring the Directorial debut of Ben Affleck, this
film is beyond gritty, but at least there’s a scriptural reference
at the beginning: sheep in the midst of wolves; wise as serpents,
innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16).
But this movie is more about the wolves and the serpents.
Questions For Discussion:
Do you have a friend whom your spouse or
loved one finds unappealing? How
have you resolved that tension?
Have you lost irreplaceable things?
How have you grieved for them?
Have you lost irreplaceable people?
How have you grieved for them?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor,
Grace Presbyterian Church,