The Burning Plain follows the story of several different people separated by time and space -- Sylvia, a woman in Oregon who must undertake an emotional odyssey to rid herself of her past; Mariana and Santiago, two teenagers trying to piece together the shattered lives of their parents in a New Mexico border town; Maria, a little girl who goes on a border-crossing voyage to help her parents find redemption, forgiveness, and love; and Gina and Nick, a couple who must deal with an intense and clandestine affair... because they are both married. Written by
sundance7490 from Scottsdale, Arizona
The title can be translated to Spanish as "El Llano en Llamas", the title of Juan Rulfo's short story collection, one of Mexico's most famous. See more »
The headboard in the bedroom of the trailer has a different carved design when Gina and Nick are using it for their rendezvous than the one shown in the burned out trailer after the explosion. See more »
Films about interlocked fragmented stories aren't anything new to writer and director Guillermo Arriaga. As director, 'The Burning Plain' is his first feature film and its quite apparent that he has poured his heart into it. Here too the film involves three stories that are told separately but linked by the first scene.
However, the non-linearity of storytelling is initially confusing but once the tragic link is made apparent, the gut-wrenching conclusion (that explains the explosion shown in the first scene) hits the viewer hard. The setting is very simplistic but rich in atmosphere especially with the dark subtle undertones. The beautiful score contributes well.
Arriaga has gathered an impressive ensemble of actors who deliver wonderfully understated performances. Charlize Theron portrays Sylvia with a subtle intensity. Kim Basinger is skillfully restrained and Jennifer Lawrence shows tremendous potential. John Corbett, Robin Tunney, José María Yazpik, Rachel Ticotin, Brett Cullen, Tessa Ia and Joaquin de Almeida provide great support.
Despite the initial confusion, the narrative is strong. There are a few clichés that could have been avoided, such as the confession scene in the hospital, but these are very minor and don't effect the impact of the film. In the end, 'The Burning Plain' is a solid film.
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