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Burning Plain, The (DVD Review)

8 Jan, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Street 1/12/10
Box Office $0.2 million, $26.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray, ‘R’ for sexuality, nudity and language.
Stars Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger, John Corbett, Joaquim de Almeida, Jennifer Lawrence.

Despite owning a busy, chic restaurant in Portland, Ore., overlooking the ocean while ensconced in the veneer of a supermodel, Sylvia (Oscar-winner Charlize Theron, stripped both physically and emotionally) appears on edge, disappearing during smoking breaks, spending nights with random men for indifferent sex, and irritating her bewildered chef boyfriend (John Corbett, in a very limited role) along the way.

In a dusty New Mexico town, an unfaithful mother (Kim Basinger) longs for Nick (veteran Portuguese actor Joaquim de Almeida) to restore passion to her life that an impotent trucker husband can’t, all the while trying to subdue rising concerns from teenage daughter/tomboy Mariana (luminous newcomer Jennifer Lawrence).

Finally, Santiago (Danny Pino from TV’s “Cold Case”) and his brother Carlos (José María Yazpik) operate a crop duster, accompanied by Santiago’s 12-year-old daughter Maria (Tessa La).

Though 1,000 miles apart and separated by 20 years, an exploding trailer home in the desert and near-death plane accident, among other non-linear happenstance (singed skin and barbecued bird), stylishly interconnect the three stories and two languages into a compelling narrative.

In other words, it’s just another satisfying tale of absolution and love from writer and first-time director Guillermo Arriaga, best known for such scripts as 21 Grams, Babel, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada and Amores Perros.

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