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"Dad, what does 'fluorescent' mean?" asks a winsome young Dory of his doting dad, played by David Duchovny. Pondering a moment, dad answers, "It means, 'lit from within." "So Dad, am I fluorescent?'" "Yes, Dory, you are." The touching, brief moment telegraphs the bond Duchovny's character, Brian, has with his family, including wife Audrey (Halle Berry) and daughter Harper (Alexis Llewellyn), and the love that radiates through and around him. When tragedy strikes early in the film, Berry and the children must acknowledge, and somehow heal, the hole left in their lives. And in that human effort, so little explored in American films, Things We Lost in the Fire holds a luminous candle to the hope left in life--sometimes when all that seems to be left is hope. Directed by the talented Danish director Susanne Bier (Brothers), Fire is allowed to unfold almost in real time as grief washes over the family, and Berry gives one of her most memorable performances, captured mostly in tiny details that will hit the viewer in the soul. Her eyes, the carriage of her head, her slim shoulders appearing to buckle under the weight of her sorrow--Berry is well directed here and shows that her performance in Monster's Ball was no fluke. As she begins to connect with Brian's childhood friend Jerry (Benicio Del Toro), a new family web is woven--irregular, to be sure, but strong and comforting. Other affecting performances are given by the talented charater actor John Carroll Lynch, as Brian's friend and neighbor, and by the heartbreaking Llewellyn, an actress of stunning range for a child so young. Things We Lost in the Fire holds a torch in the deepest darkness, and lets souls connect--a rare gift indeed. --A.T. Hurley