The Burning Plain

Year: 2008
Studio: 2929 Productions
Writer: Guillermo Arriaga
Cast: Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger, Jennifer Lawrence, John Corbett, Rachel Ticotin

A very well structured indie film with parallel stories that seem to have nothing to do with each for the first half before the connection gradually, seductively reveals itself.

In one, Charlize Theron plays a restauranteur in a cold harbourside town who seems happy on the surface but indulges in too many aimless one-night stands. In the other we meet a family in an inland dustbowl desert town where the mother (Kim Basinger) is meeting a man at a trailer in the desert to have an affair when her teenaged daughter starts to suspect something. And in the last one, a young Mexican cropduster is injured in a crash, leaving his young daughter frightened for his life.

We gradually realise the teenage girl is the aimless woman ten or so years apart, after running away from her home and family to live with a terrible secret.

The plot's too intricate to talk about any more but it deals with regret, loss and young love beautifully and movingly. The fast and loose chronology is actually familiar, and it wasn't until after I realised Guillermo Arriaga, the writer behind similarly fractured tales like 21 Grams and Babel, wrote and directed it.

Everyone involved does a great job, Charlize Theron's beautiful to look at but she's also a great actress and in the right project she adds a lot of currency.

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