When I heard that The Burning Plain was written and directed by Guillermo Arriaga, I was eager to see it. Arriaga, you’ll probably recall, wrote the screenplays for movies such as The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, Babel, 21 Grams and Amores Perros. That’s one hell of a resume, but movies aren’t the sum of past credits, and Arriaga’s directorial debut turns into a major disappointment. The presence of name actors such as Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger doesn’t help, and, in typical Arriaga fashion, the story leaps around in time. Basically the drama stems from the consequences of an affair between a married woman (Basinger) and her Mexcican-American lover (Joaquim de Almeida). In trying for intense drama, Arriaga lights many fuses, but sets off few real emotional explosions.
The Burning Plain
published October 1, 2009