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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

In the airborne scene of the crop duster dusting the field, the course and actions of the dusting process were inconsistent with real crop dusting. Spraying began at a point well into the field, and no distinct pattern was set such as to avoid missing or re-spraying spots. See more »

Quotes

Laura: Late night?
Sylvia: I guess.
Laura: Again?
Sylvia: Again.
Laura: Hmm. Same guy?
Sylvia: No.
Laura: Do I know him?
Sylvia: Maybe.
Laura: Do you know him?
See more »


Soundtracks

Las Golondrinas
Written by Ricardo Palmerín & Luis Rosado
Performed by Flaco Jiménez (as Flaco Jimenez)
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc.
By Arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Consequences of an Extra-marital Affair
4 August 2010 | by tigerfish50See all my reviews

Guillermo Arriaga was the writer for Inarritu's films (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel) and here dons the director's mantel for the first time on a major film project. "The Burning Plain" is an intense story that plays out over thirteen years, although all the action is squeezed into two segments at each end of the time span. The film relates how an extra-marital affair has repercussions which echo down through the following years. The chain of events is initiated when Gina, a housewife and mother, embarks on a passionate romance with Nick, a Mexican with a family of his own. After a gas tank explosion kills the lovers while they make love in a remote desert trailer, Gina's traumatized teenage daughter Mariana becomes friends with Nick's son Santiago.

Arriaga focuses on the mother, daughter and grand-daughter at the story's center. He uses four actresses for their roles - two being required for the teenage Mariana and her 30-something persona - and all of them (Kim Basinger, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence and Tessa la) give exceptional performances. When Mariana first notices evidence of her mother's infidelity, she remains silent and carries the burden alone. The breach between them widens as Mariana's investigations confirm her suspicions - and the youthful beauty of her face transforms into a mask as she conceals knowledge which could destroy her family. Arriaga portrays her dilemma with a delicacy that amplifies the girl's pain - showing the silent spread of the poison, its contagion first claiming the mother-daughter relationship, and then creating new ripples of damage which will ultimately infect the next generation.

The narrative is tighter than Arriaga's work with Inarritu - a tale illustrating how one transgression can set in motion the engine of fate. He relies on classic cinematic techniques rather than Inarritu's flashy ones - but as in his previous work, Arriaga breaks up the story's chronological flow by chopping back and forth between two time segments. One can't help wondering if it was necessary here, since the story possesses such a strong arc. However, this is just a quibble - "The Burning Plain" results in something close to a masterpiece which shares many thematic elements found in the work of Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy and Dostoevsky.


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