Academy AwardŽ winners Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger star in this romantic mystery about hope, redemption and second chances. Sylvia (Theron) is a woman on the edge whose cool, professional demeanor masks a deeply troub... more »led, sexually charged storm within. When a stranger from Mexico confronts her with her mysterious past, she is launched into an emotional journey back to the defining moment of her life. Gina (Basinger) is a housewife trapped in a loveless marriage who finds solace and passion in an illicit affair. Though separated by time and great distances, these women find their lives linked by the forces of love and fate.« less
Mary Jane T. (MJ) from SPOTSYLVANIA, VA Reviewed on 8/15/2010...
I really liked this movie! It has a great story that comes together near the end. Great cast, job well done.
Fragmented tale of love as cycle of pain, scars and healing
Mr. Stephen Kennedy | Doha, Qatar | 12/02/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The directorial debut of Guillermo Arriaga, screenwriter of 21 grams and Babel, is a tortured piece of work. Rather like its characters, it is beautiful to look at but bleak as we come to understand it. Thankfully, we are left with a message of hope, but it's a fragmented journey getting there as we experience love as it evolves not just through joy and happiness but through pain and scars. It's one of those multi-stranded stories Arriaga specialises in... except this time, it is not always different characters we are observing - it's the same ones, in different times. One strand with Kim Basinger, involves a married woman, sneaking off from her empty marriage at lunchtime to her lover, in a trailer on a plain. It's this trailer on fire which gives the film its title. Then, there is the teenage daughter who has her own secrets and is drawn to the young Mexican man who she meets at his father's funeral. Finally, Charlize Theron plays the beautiful restaurateur, who away from the style and poise of her role at work, seeks empty sex and self inflicted wounds.. what pain is she trying to hide? Does the answer lie in the Mexican man who follows her? If the strands don't stand fully composed as short stories in their own right, it's because they rely on each other.. so that the performance of one actress relies on notes set up by another. It's a typically convoluted piece of writing by Arriega. A final point, and this is where critics were on the whole less than kind, is that for much of the movie it is frustratingly ambiguous who is who and in what time, until gradually the picture becomes clear. It's a tangled story for the most part, and if you dislike activating your brain cells, then steer clear. In the end, the story is actually quite slight.. and yet it has some depth of feeling, scraping underneath the characters surface instead of adding layers onto them. It might not have much to say, and the characters may not always be endearing, but it is nonetheless thought provoking and beautifully shot in sparsely filled though elegantly framed widescreen. Frankly I found it more satisfying than the more star-studded and acclaimed Babel. Certainly, the performances from the three leads: Theron, Basinger and relative newcomer Jennifer Lawrence are utterly outstanding. There is no grandstanding here.. just terrific understated turns from some of Hollywood's best. If bleak cinema and tragic characters are your thing, then step right in. If it's action or easy moral certainties you seek.. move along, there's nothing for you here.
"Again, the same team of Amores Perros and Babel strikes us with this memorable and haunting movie.
A story told from different perspectives through three generations the narrative ellipsis. An untamed search of a weird woman who seems to live out of this world , a disappointed married woman who is rejected by his own husband and loved by a third man, a young couple who fall in love despite the circumstances, have a common point of departure.
The marvelous script never falls in commonplaces. The approach about the painful situation of this unhappy woman (Kim Bassinger) who suffered breast cancer is not neither indulgent nor melodramatic. On the other hand, the marvelous landscapes (Portland's seashore) depicts with pictorial expression the crumbling spiritual of Marianne (Sylvia).
Finally the amazing edition process and the wonderful performances of all the cast make of this film one of the best of the year.
Don't miss it!
Almost Too Perfect
Peter Baklava | Charles City, Iowa | 02/12/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Here is a movie that seems clearly indebted to John Sayles' "Lone Star". It shares the same kind of elliptical story line, and generation-spanning themes of forbidden love, racial and sexual taboos, tragedy, guilt and redemption . It even has a musical score featuring heavily reverbed alt-country guitar.
It's such a beautifully shot and constructed film that it is hard to isolate the things that undermine it. Maybe it comes down to this: too many motifs weaving in and out, too many empty symbols. It's like a symphony by a composer who hits all the right notes, but doesn't succeed in creating a living work that truly breathes.
I still recommend watching it... if for nothing more in that it's one of Charlize Theron's best "turns" as an actress, and for the wonderful cinematography.
Confused for your Enjoyment
A Customer | L.A. | 01/17/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Guillermo Arriaga's rotating perspective narrative works best in this tidy drama concerning family, relationships, regrets and two generations of risky sex. The acting, writing and directing are a sensual feast that looks good, sounds good and feels very good after some intrigue. With a lot to see and hear in less that two hours; the out of sequence details weave their way into crystal clarity. Han Zimmer and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez score hypnotic scenes from the desert to the ocean. The writer has earth, wind, fire and water in mind for the characters, actions and settings; but you can take it as heady soaper. Like Cubism or string theory; this movie challenges and rewards. Most critics didn't like it in comparison to Arriaga's Babel. Enjoy it and the edge on them. Maybe it has too many notes. Beautifully filmed; Great BD A/V"
Diverse strands weave together to tell a compelling story of
z hayes | TX | 02/19/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
""The Burning Plain" simmers slowly, transcending time and space, weaving back and forth chronologically to tell a tale of such pain and grief that it is truly heartbreaking to watch. The incredibly talented Charlize Theron plays Sylvia, a restaurant hostess somewhere in Oregon, who walks dazedly through life, exorcising her inner demons through casual, indiscriminate sex. There's a strange guy (Jose Maria Yazpik) who seems to be stalking her. Then in another strand, there's a discontented housewife (Kim Basinger) who is having an affair with a married man (Joaquim de Almeida). A tragedy ensues, lives are thrown off balance and viewers are left to put the pieces of the puzzle together. I love this method of storytelling (from the same guy who gave us Babel and Amores Perros) and putting things together step by step, though I did manage to 'solve' the dark mystery harbored by Charlize Theron early on in the story. The talented cast, including young actors J.D. Pardo and Jennifer Lawrence who play teenage lovers brought together as a result of the tragedy, deliver finely nuanced performances that elicit viewer's empathy. Nothing is black and white - what initially appear to be flawed and immoral characters are revealed to have surprising depth. This is a movie that slowly engages the viewer's attention and once it does, it takes full grip and never lets go till the final scene."