6.8/10
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The Burning Plain (2008)

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A drama with a two-tiered storyline concerning a mother and daughter who try to form a bond after the young woman's difficult childhood.

Director:

Guillermo Arriaga
2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlize Theron ... Sylvia
John Corbett ... John
José María Yazpik ... Carlos
Robin Tunney ... Laura
Gray Eubank ... Lawrence
Fernanda Romero ... Sophie
Kacie Thomas ... Vivi
Martin Papazian ... Young Man
Sean McGrath ... Cook
JD Pardo ... Young Santiago
Diego J. Torres ... Cristobal (as Diego Torres)
José Gallardo Jr. José Gallardo Jr. ... Xavier
Rachel Ticotin ... Ana
Rosalia De Aragon Rosalia De Aragon ... Aunt Rebecca (as Rosalia de Aragon)
Debrianna Mansini ... Paula
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Love heals. Love absolves. Love burns.

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality, nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Argentina

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

5 November 2009 (Argentina) See more »

Also Known As:

Loin de la terre brûlée See more »

Filming Locations:

Depoe Bay, Oregon, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$58,749, 20 September 2009, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$200,399, 20 November 2009
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

|

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 writers. See more »

Goofs

Santiago and Maria are supposedly living in Mexico, but Santiago's Piper has a US tail number (they start with "N" while Mexican aircraft start with XA or XB) See more »

Quotes

Sylvia: What grade are you in?
Maria: 9th.
Sylvia: Do you have a boyfriend?
Maria: Nope. Do you?
See more »

Connections

Featured in At the Movies: Episode #24.1 (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

No More
(1944)
Music by Camarata (as Toots Camarata)
Lyrics by Bob Russell
Performed by Madeleine Peyroux
Courtesy of Rounder Records
By Arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Forced and forceful, gradually makes sense and gets to you...give it time
26 June 2010 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

The Burning Plain (2008)

Following a growing trend toward taking a straight forward story and making it complicated by telling it out of order, The Burning Plain might have shown the fault lines in that method. And it's not that the story, a kind of Romeo and Juliet with child story, isn't riveting. It is. And it's not that the telling of it isn't interesting. It is. But the telling is so forcefully complicated, it draws attention to itself, and away from the more human drama that is at work.

That said, it's also true that every high point here there is a storytelling gaffe. The cross cultural Mexican/American themes are generally underplayed (the exception being the insults thrown at the funeral), and convincing. The basic love story is strong enough, too, and given a nice second layer through time, as you'll see. But there are some quirks that are made both improbable and overly dramatic. One of the tenderhearted heros of the story is shown too visibly as a disturbed stalker. And the lead woman, played with a kind of virtuosic exuberance as usual by Charlize Theron, has almost too much to juggle, emotionally and literally. It just doesn't wash.

Most troubling is the writing. Not the big picture, the plot and the large sequence of events, but the actually dialog. This kind of gritty and dire movie laced with real love has to be convincing above all, and there are dozens of moments and individual lines that just smack as screen writing rather than real characters thinking and speaking.

So it's a mixed bag. An ambitious and promising mixed bag, with some moving and beautiful moments. I think it's worth seeing, but with tolerance.


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