Movie Review: The Burning Plain (2008)



It’s a good story, but something was lacking. Everything made perfect sense, including the psychology of Sylvia (Charlize Theron), yet there was something amissed. I hate to say it, but I believe Theron was mis-casted, not because of her acting, which was good, but because I had a hard time adjusting to the transition of a small town girl to a successful restaurateur, who still looked like a Dior’s model in all camera angles. Perhaps, it was a minor flaw only I saw that won’t bother you enjoying this relatively predictable film.

Three teenagers went out to the desert to look at the charred remain of a trailer that once hosted a man and a woman: secret lovers. Two of them are the sons of the deceased married man, Nick Martinez (Joaquim de Almeida); the younger son Santiago (JD Pardo/Danny Pino) wants to know what his father was thinking before he was incinerated with his inspection of blackened burned bed.

At the dead man’s funeral,  Gina’s (Kim Basinger) family show up, the husband, Robert (Brett Cullen), accuses the teenagers’ father for taking away his children’s mother. The eldest daughter, Mariana (Jennifer Lawrence), follows his father to their truck while peeping at Santiago. They form an unusal relationship, whether in honour of their parents’ true love, or in exploring their own affection.

Gina and Nick had been seeing each other frequently at the trailer, they were in love. He offered her what her husband could no longer give. She was a cancer survivor, and her husband could not bear her physically in bed (rather classic). Gina fell for Nick’s compassion, and good sex?!

Sylvia also falls for the married type. John (John Corbett) is the sous-chef of her restaurant, and he is one of her random FBs, which John hates, and yet he is not leaving his wife for her.

Santiago has a twelve years old daughter, Maria(Tessa Ia). His plane crushes while dusting a field, his business partner, Carlos (José María Yazpik) takes Maria to find Mariana upon Santiago’s wish, while being beside his sick-bed in the hospital.

I think I lay them all out fairly clear: 1) charred trailer (accident vs. homicide); 2) teenagers’ lost love and found love; 3) the behind stories of two parents’ adultery; 4) the psychology of uncommitted random sex-affairs.

WATCH…great piecemeal acting among Basinger, Theron and Lawrence. Nothing to gel them three together, unfortunately.



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