I've always thought of Benicio del Toro as looking like a bit of a sad sack. I sort of dismissed him as a disheveled rebel wannabe who needed to get some sleep already. Recently, after re-watching his brilliant turn as Javier Rodriquez in 2000's Traffic and his equally mesmerizing performance as Jerry Sunborne in 2007's Things We Lost in the Fire, I was struck by his overpowering screen presence and obvious versatility as an actor.
Del Toro is able to convey more thoughts and emotions through his eyes than many actors can project through pages of dialogue. You only have to look at his eyes in this film to see the heavy strain his character is under, that of a drug-addicted man who has just lost the one person in the world who never gave up on him.
Things We Lost in the Fire is the story of Audrey Burke (Halle Barry) who loses her husband Brian (David Duchovny) when he is killed trying to help a woman who is being beaten by her husband. Duchovny is surprisingly affecting in his brief role as a caring husband and father who, despite his wife's misgivings, maintains a relationship with his childhood friend Jerry Sunborne (Benicio del Toro). Sunborne, once a successful lawyer, is addicted to heroin.
Now with the sudden death of her husband, Audrey is forced to reassess her life. Left alone to raise her two children, Harper (Alexis Llewellyn) and Dory (Micah Berry), she finds herself turning to the person who knew her husband the best — Jerry Sunborne. Audrey allows Jerry to stay in a spare room in the garage. Before long, he begins attending 12-step meetings and seeing some meaning in his life. Jerry also becomes a father figure to Audrey's children.