The Burning Plain (2008) - Plot Summary Poster


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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.

  • 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.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The past and the present have a curious way of effecting one another as several people seperated by time and space are about to discover -- Mariana, a 16-year-old girl trying to put together the shattered lives of her parents in a Mexican border town; Sylvia, a woman in Portland who must undertake an emotional odyssey to burnish a sin from her past; Gina and Nick, a couple who must deal with an intense and clandestine affair; and Maria, a young girl who helps her parents find redemption, forgiveness and love. The five will discover that their actions may mean the difference between life and death as well as their own journeys into seeking redemption...and whether or not they will ever find it.

    I thought it seemed obvious that the teenage girl who blew up her mother in the trailer was the same person as the older woman, years later, and that the young girl was the baby she abandoned and didn't want to give birth to. The injured pilot/father was the same as the young Hispanic boy she fell in love with, then left. They are not five characters, or "several people," but are all in the same family. The "burning plain" refers to the mysterious image that starts the movie and is explicated and given emotional resonance by the flashback/flash forward technique that the film depends on, and uses quite successfully. - P Wiener

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