Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 30 Ratings

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  • Summary: The Burning Plain, a romantic mystery about a woman on the edge who takes an emotional journey back to the defining moment of her life. Sylvia is a beautiful restaurant manager whose cool, professional demeanor masks the sexually charged storm within. When a stranger from Mexico confronts her with her mysterious past, Sylvia is launched into a journey through space and time that inextricably connects her to these 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. (Magnolia Pictures) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 18
  2. Negative: 6 out of 18
  1. Reviewed by: Gary Goldstein
    Powerful, profound and beautifully rendered.
  2. Reviewed by: Tirdad Derakhshani
    For a film that strives so hard to show the sheer messiness of real people's lives, Burning Plain does have an impossibly neat ending.
  3. Reviewed by: Mark Feeney
    The best performance here comes from a Mexican child actress, Tessa Ia, as half of one of the fraught mother-daughter relationships.
  4. Initially, the puzzle structure and a pair of Oscar-winning actresses distract us from the dark vacuum at the center of this enterprise, but when it implodes, it doesn't reverberate.
  5. All the actresses, especially Theron, are appropriately haunted, but let's hope Arriaga's love of echoes, fate and coincidence has run its mopey course.
  6. The scenery (prettily captured by There Will Be Blood cinematographer Robert Elswit) is littered with heavy symbolism (fire! rain! dead birds!); the performances are merely heavy.
  7. Reviewed by: Aaron Hillis
    The writer's most successful works--"The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" and "Amores Perros"--were bolstered by directors who brought genuine emotion to the screen, but The Burning Plain marks Arriaga's behind-the-camera debut, and his obviousness is staggering.

See all 18 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 6
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 6
  3. Negative: 0 out of 6
  1. WayneB
    Sep 20, 2009
    Outstanding. Award worthy acting, especially from Charlize Theron & Kim Basinger in a well chosen and attractive cast.
  2. Jan 15, 2012
    This is GOOD movie. It is powerful story but not chronological.
    You should watch this twice (or more).
    Storyline is moving in perfect
    Charlize Theron is award worthy acting.
  3. DavidA
    Sep 27, 2009
    A good story, well told, beautifully filmed. The jumps in time are not confusing at all, there are so few main characters.
  4. KateK
    Oct 3, 2009
    I loved it! Intense, emotional, whatever the faults, I don't care because it has heart and pathos and that's what I most love in the movies. Expand
  5. Jun 13, 2014
    The actors are nice and the story is decent, but I didn't get emotionally engaged while watching. Overall it was pretty boring, maybe the filming is bland. Expand
  6. Jan 21, 2013
    An odd movie, really. Not bad, not good, easily forgettable. The emotions just don't pop and grab you, but it's watchable. Jennifer Lawrence does offer a good deal of acting though. Expand