The Burning Plain

2009

The Burning Plain

Critics Consensus

This heavily symbolic, melodramatic multi-narrative drama lacks emotional resonance.

38%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 79

56%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,490
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Movie Info

Sylvia's cool, professional demeanor masks the sexually charged storm within. When a stranger from Mexico confronts her with her mysterious past, she is launched into a journey through space and time that inextricably connects her to disparate characters, all of whom are grappling with their own romantic destinies. In Mexico, a young motherless girl, Maria, lives happily with her father and his best friend until a tragic accident changes it all. In the New Mexico border town of Las Cruces, two teenagers, Mariana and Santiago, find love in the aftermath of their parents' sudden deaths. In an abandoned trailer, a housewife, Gina, embarks on a passionate affair that will put Sylvia and the others on a collision course with the explosive power of forbidden love.

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Critic Reviews for The Burning Plain

All Critics (79) | Top Critics (21) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (49)

Audience Reviews for The Burning Plain

  • Jan 16, 2013
    Features Arriaga's traditional broken narrative style for good dramatic effects, has a brilliant cinematography that mirrors well the characters and what they're put through, subtle but affecting asoundtrack, some stellar performances by Theron, Lawrence and Basinger but just doesn't quite resonate emotionally as much as his previous partnerships with Iñarritú. A strong debut, this tale of redemption, acceptance, forgiveness and at times the darkest corners of humanity, is a definite watch from someone who has a very clear and distinctive voice.
    Francisco G Super Reviewer
  • Apr 22, 2012
    For all the time this movie spends going back and forth through time, the characters at the center of the story are never really given a chance to become fleshed out and more complex. The plot jumps between four different stories, which are slowly revealed to all be closely connected to one another. Really though, only two of the story lines are engaging, mainly because there is very little time spent with the other two, and because of this the plot feels disjointed at times. The plot does eventually come together though, and when it does the movie makes much more sense and is easier to follow. The movie definitely feels a bit melodramatic a lot of the time also, especially towards the end. I did actually like some aspects of it though, namely the romance between Jennifer Lawrence and JD Pardo, which seemed sweet, albeit occasionally cheesy. If the movie had been more focused and maybe just stuck to one story at a time, the characters could have been much more compelling, but because of the plot that's constantly pulling the characters in different directions, they're never given a chance to show their true colors. The movie ends up being mediocre but watchable, and as long as you're not expecting too much out of it, you might like it.
    Joey S Super Reviewer
  • Apr 28, 2011
    Directed and written by Guillermo Arriaga, the screenwriter of Amores perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003), and Babel (2006). The film stars Charlize Theron, Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Basinger and Joaquim de Almeida. In Arriaga's directorial debut, he films a story that has multipart story strands woven together like in his previous screenplays.In the style of the three movies above, this one is boring and without the same class.
    Andre T Super Reviewer
  • Dec 14, 2010
    The only reason to watch this film is the remarkable performance by Jennifer Lawrence, who recently garnered a Golden Globe nomination for another film. She captures a perfect balance between the impetuousness of youth and the world-weary bitterness of a daughter forced to grow up too soon, and late in the film she has an uninhibited crying scene that makes Viola Davis's part in <i>Doubt</i> look like it's as guarded as Russell Crowe. As far as the story is concerned, I think of Kurt Vonnegut's "rules" for writing. He effectively said, "Don't hide anything from the audience. Fuck suspense." He also said, "Flannery O'Connor violates all of these rules and still writes effective fiction." Hi ho. Writer/director Guillermo Arriaga would have done well to remember Vonnegut's "rules" because for much of the movie, we feel like the episodic scenes we're presented with are too disconnected in theme and substance to amount to anything interesting. It turns out that the stories are connected, but by the time we find this out, we've stopped caring. Overall, catch a rising star in Lawrence but to hell with the rest of the film.
    Jim H Super Reviewer

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