Critic Reviews



Based on 18 critic reviews provided by
In The Burning Plain, another directorial debut, sensationalism is on order, but it's buttressed by fear, suffering, and desire - the schizo-blend that makes Arriaga's scripts so unique.
For a film that strives so hard to show the sheer messiness of real people's lives, Burning Plain does have an impossibly neat ending.
Told chronologically, it might have accumulated considerable power. Told as a labyrinthine tangle of intercut timelines and locations, it is a frustrating exercise in self-indulgence by writer-director Guillermo Arriaga.
The best performance here comes from a Mexican child actress, Tessa Ia, as half of one of the fraught mother-daughter relationships.
The main drawbacks of The Burning Plain are its intentionally coy narrative and a zero-hour revelation that's ill-thought-out and generates some pretty chintzy psychobabble. It's the wobbliest element in an admirable, complex and frustrating movie.
The Hollywood Reporter
An ambitious, visually handsome production which fails to ignite.
It's possible to admire the performances of stars Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger in The Burning Plain , even as you backpedal from the film, hoping the ponderous megasoap will just go away.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Initially, the puzzle structure and a pair of Oscar-winning actresses distract us from the dark vacuum at the center of this enterprise, but when it implodes, it doesn't reverberate.
All the actresses, especially Theron, are appropriately haunted, but let's hope Arriaga's love of echoes, fate and coincidence has run its mopey course.
Here the characters aren't compelling enough to ask viewers to give their brains a workout to determine exactly what's going on.
The scenery (prettily captured by There Will Be Blood cinematographer Robert Elswit) is littered with heavy symbolism (fire! rain! dead birds!); the performances are merely heavy.

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