Director and occasional scriptwriter Susanne Bier essayed a series of helming assignments in her native Denmark during the late '90s and early 2000s, that clocked in as lucrative and popular enough to kick-start a highly respectable career for the filmmaker. Though Bier's credits officially date back to 1992, she achieved her first significant breakthrough in 1999, when she directed The One and Only -- a well-received romantic comedy about dating, marriage, child-rearing, and adultery. That film reportedly grossed a heftier amount than any picture in Danish history; a follow-up, the Dogme 95 drama Open Hearts (2002), brought Bier her first international crossover hit and paved the way for much additional success. Shot according to Lars von Trier's hyper-ascetic filmmaking rules, it told of two couples whose lives become hopelessly and tragically enmeshed following a severe automobile accident. Bier's Danish-language drama Brothers (2004) explored the feud that erupts between two siblings as impacted by the tumult of war, while After the Wedding (2006) explored the moral and ethical quandaries plaguing the head of an orphanage (Mads Mikkelsen) when he is offered a donation -- some strings attached -- by his ex-girlfriend's millionaire husband.
Wedding gleaned a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for Bier -- a vital touchstone, for it brought Hollywood beckoning, and in 2007 she mounted her first Tinseltown effort under the aegis of DreamWorks. The much-anticipated drama Things We Lost in the Fire (2007) starred Halle Berry as a suddenly and tragically widowed housewife whose path crisscrosses with that of a lonely heroin addict (Benicio Del Toro), who had been her husband's best friend. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi