Lisa Schwarzbaum
September 23, 2009 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Burning Plain

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
111 minutes
Wide Release Date
09/18/09
performer
Kim Basinger, Charlize Theron, John Corbett, Robin Tunney
director
Guillermo Arriaga
distributor
Magnolia Pictures
author
Guillermo Arriaga
genre
Drama

We gave it a D+

Kim Basinger plays a sad married mom in New Mexico who screws around — until her dreams go up in smoke. Charlize Theron plays a sad single woman in Oregon who smokes and screws around. The two ladies are linked, but to find out how, you must wade through The Burning Plain‘s intentionally disorienting narrative shuffles — the signature storytelling tic of Mexican screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga (21 Grams, Babel), here making his unsteady directorial debut. 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. (Also available on cable via on demand) D+

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