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The Burning Plain

3.8 out of 5 stars 604 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Academy Award® 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 troubled, 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.

Special Features

Making of The Burning Plain
The Music of The Burning Plain
NDNET: A Look at The Burning Plain

Product Details

  • Actors: Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger, John Corbett
  • Directors: Guillermo Arriaga
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Magnolia Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: January 12, 2010
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (604 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002S5N052
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,525 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Burning Plain" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I have enjoyed the work of Guillermo Arriage, including Babel and 21 Grams. However, Arriage uses the same technique with 'The Burning Plain, as he did in 'Babel,' which for me can be confusing, at times, and not a preferred methodology for most viewers. Here again, we are faced with current time, running parallel with a significant amount of back-story, and a multitude of characters that initially seem disconnected. It took me a while to realize what was going on. I should have had a clue, from Babel. Finally the stories began to converge---rather flawlessly, so it was well worth the patience required. In fact, in some respects, I think it was better constructed than Babel, in tying up loose ends.

Be warned, this (107 min) R-rated, romantic, mystery/drama, will not be for everyone. It is not action driven, aside from some self-mutilating behaviors, sensual scenes with nudity, and a trailer blowing up. It is not filled with gratuitous violence, awesome CGI, or other big-box-office, draw themes, although the filming is lovely. Instead, it is a slow paced, deep character study involving three wounded female leads, Theron being the primary protagonist. It is about an illicit love affair(Basinger) and the dark web surrounding omissions of truth---the escalating lies. It is about the irrevocable psychic damage that can be done, when youth is the witness to adults breaking the rules and threatening their security. It is about an ego destroyed and on the path of self destruction. It is about stopping cutting, just to feel alive, and opening up for love and forgiveness. It is about redemption.

I loved the psychological dynamics of this movie and thought they were well developed.
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Format: Amazon Video
I'm certainly NOT an eloquent movie reviewer. I knows what I likes, and I likes what I knows. The Burning Plain deals with, well, pain...in the very REAL sense of the word. Dark secrets, hunted down, revealed, cloaked in ritualistic, mental and physical, self-inflicted pain!

I enjoyed the movie's flashbacks. Kept me on my toes. I UNDERSTOOD so much of the story plot. Human frailties, so raw, so exposed. The need to fill up the avoidable guilt-ridden void brought on by the inability to refuse, to just say no, to turn the other cheek, to just accept without questioning.

Watch the movie, The Burning Plain.
(Superb acting, exceptional cinematography...btw.)
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Format: Blu-ray
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..
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Format: Amazon Video
Burning Plain is a testament to Charlize Theron's first class acting abilities. She is able to draw the viewers in completely, and make them wonder about the dark past her character (Sylvia) is hiding. She is just a joy to watch. While Kim Basinger delivers a solid and at times heart-wrenching performance, I still found her to be somewhat miscast in her role as a truck driver's wife. In my opinion she came across as too upscale to be believable, more like a cast member of Desperate Housewives, without the humor. Jennifer Lawrence as Mariana is exquisite and is a crucial part to the haunting quality of this movie.

The film's approach to telling its story is interesting and maybe a bit confusing at first. A large part of the story plays in the past (underscored by those scenes having been filmed with a slight yellow tint, as if looking at aging home video), and the movie jumps frequently between the past and the present as well as between locations. But once the viewer has figured it out, it is easy to follow the individual threads.

If I have one complaint it is that the ending is a bit too feel-good. I simply doubt that a person with Sylvia's past and habits could in the end succeed at successfully turning the page for good. While the movie doesn't explicitly spell it out, this is what the last scene implies. But maybe this was intentionally done by the director, exactly to make the audience wonder about the outcome of it all in the end.

Be that as it may, all in all I really enjoyed this movie and the entire cast's stellar performances.
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