The Burning Plain


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  USA/Argentina, 2008.  , , .  Screenplay by Guillermo Arriaga.  Cinematography by .  Produced by , .  Music by , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  Toronto International Film Festival 2008.

 plays an emotionally disconnected woman who works as a classy restaurant hostess by day and allows men to take advantage of her sexually by night.   is a housewife with four kids who is indulging in a dangerous sexual affair with a married man () against her better judgment. A Mexican crop duster puts his motherless little girl at risk of being an orphan when his plane crashes and he fights for his life in hospital. These three stories have connections that writer and debuting director Guillermo Arriaga, previously the scribe for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s acclaimed films, trusts his audience to figure out well in advance of their being revealed. The pleasure in this film is not in actually putting the pieces together but in watching the mysteries unravel with patient, even movements, and despite the fact that it is a dark and heavy work it is also emotionally rich and superbly performed. Theron plays her character’s distaff qualities without ever being self-indulgently morose, while Basinger is superb in bringing the kind of delicate precision that she often does to this type of role (not to mention the fact that time seems to be doing no harm to her beauty). A highly satisfying film from beginning to end.

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