Mixed or average reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic 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: Matthew Sorrento
    In The Burning Plain, another directorial debut, sensationalism is on order, but it's buttressed by fear, suffering, and desire – the schizo-blend that makes Arriaga's scripts so unique.
  3. 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.
  4. 63
    Told chronologically, it might have accumulated considerable power. Told as a labyrinthine tangle of intercut timelines and locations, it is a frustrating exercise in self-indulgence by writer-director Guillermo Arriaga.
  5. 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.
  6. 58
    Portland's dreary climate is used to good effect, but it's not enough to make up for the director's needlessly convoluted approach.
  7. Reviewed by: Deborah Young
    An ambitious, visually handsome production which fails to ignite.
  8. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    The main drawbacks of The Burning Plain are its intentionally coy narrative and a zero-hour revelation that's ill-thought-out and generates some pretty chintzy psychobabble. It's the wobbliest element in an admirable, complex and frustrating movie.
  9. It's possible to admire the performances of stars Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger in The Burning Plain , even as you backpedal from the film, hoping the ponderous megasoap will just go away.
  10. 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.
  11. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    Many of the weaknesses and few of the strengths of Guillermo Arriaga as a scripter are evident in his directing debut, The Burning Plain.
  12. 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.
  13. 38
    Here the characters aren't compelling enough to ask viewers to give their brains a workout to determine exactly what's going on.
  14. 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.
  15. 33
    The characters in The Burning Plain are so narrowly defined by tragedy that they reveal no other facets of humanity.
  16. 30
    Like his scripts for “21 Grams” and “Babel,” this one makes heavy use of happenstance and temporal displacement, and like them, too, it depends on ideas about human behavior that can only be called preposterous.
  17. Reviewed by: Nicolas Rapold
    This film’s greatest accomplishment is that its theatrical gestures manage to feel preposterous, pretentious and routine at the same time.
  18. 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.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 28 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. 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. Full Review »
  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.
    Full Review »
  3. 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. Full Review »