Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Burning Plain

Guillermo Arriaga is back after making Babel and 21 Grams. This movie is not much different, diverse characters located around in separate areas that share or will share a common bond. This movie takes place in two different areas, the Washington coast, the southwest right along the border, and in Mexico. The Washington coast is cold and rainy like how I remembered it when I visited Seattle a couple of years ago.

Charlize Theron is Sylvia who owns or seems to own a restuarant along the Washington coast. Right on a cliff overlooking the pacific. She had a baby about 12 years prior that she walked away from two days after it was born. The daughter is raised in northern Mexico but still seems to know English. Her father is severly injured when a bird stalls the engine of his crop dusting plane and it falls out of the sky. No explosion, this movie is realistic, not a Lethal Weapon type movie. But an explosion is not needed to wreck any human body inside the cabin.

Kim Basinger plays Gina who is having an affair with the villian in Clear and Present Danger. Joaquim de Almeida is Nick and he sets up their get away retreat in a trailer in the middle of the desert/shrub plain. Gina has a full family and truck driving husband. She wants to call off this affair with Nick because her teenage daughter, the cute Jennifer Lawrence senses her mother is not acting right and is living a double life. And perhaps the guilt is destroying her from within. But Gina can not call it off too soon before tragedy occurs. Jennifer plays Mariana and Mariana is perhaps the most controversial figure in this story.

Sylvia has her own guilt up in Washington. She seems to have a nice apartment, she does, a steady and comfortable lifestyle. But the guilt of running away from her child is also eroding her mental stability. She is sleeping with different guys and can not seem to settle on any anything until her daughter arrives with a co worker/friend of her father. Sylvia does the cowardly thing at first and walks away when she first sees her daughter in about 12 years. They link up, they communicate after renting a room where her daughter and the man are staying. They have drove a long way almost for naught before Sylvia and her daughter discuss matters. Sylvia joins them and they drive back to Mexico so Sylvia and her daughter can see her father as he passes away. It does not seem like a recovery is likely.

Mariana is struggling with what her mother maybe doing. She follows her mother to the trailer on her bike. She makes an excuse to her siblings by saying she forgot her home work while they continue marching off to school. Gina wants hot water in the trailer so Nick sets up a propane tank and hot water heater for the trailer. Mariana is not a trained firefighter, knows little about arson, and even less about being a pyromaniac. But her actions to lead to a sizeable explosion and the death of two people, including her mother. She only wants to scare her mother, possibly burn down the trailer. But the fire she lit leads to the newly installed propane tanks that Nick conveinently set up for his lover-Mariana's mother. To make her comfortable. Both are blown up and incinerated. Their bodies melted into one. Mariana is devastated and no one is the wiser. Their is not any witnesses in the middle of the desert. The two lovers wanted their privacy.

Nick was a father of a couple of boys and his mother is pissed. She is upset at her adulterer husband and does not even show up for the funeral. Attending that she leaves up to her boys. At the funeral, Mariana's father tosses racist slurs at them like "wetback" right in front of his children. Stupid father, his wife is just as at fault as their father Nick was for what occured. And his own daughter caused the destruction but he is none the wiser on this. No one is.

Mariana is being followed by one of Nick's sons-Diego J. Torres-who is named Cristobal. He just wants to learn more about the woman who his dad fell for and would rather spend time with besides his own mother. Cristobal also becomes fascinated with Mariana and Mariana is interested in him. They fall for each other. When both families find out, they are distraught. Cristobal's mother says he will be in hell with his father, in the same place. Mariana's father wants to shoot Cristobal. Mariana and Cristobal leave and that is how the movie ends. They sleep in his old Chevy pick up truck, discussing their options. She is pregnant, she wants to have an abortion. He says they can build a life in Mexico. Crazy love or asinine decisions. Both are actually pretty mature, neither are foolish. They are just about 10 years early in their relationship. Get some skills, graduate high school first.

The movie does not have any stunning music. The script is good. The movie bounces around time, but that does not mean it is too hard to follow. It is entertaining. Only a couple of scenes could have been skipped. It did not bounce all over the world like Babel did, this movie occurs all in North America, in three different places. Though two of the places seem like similiar terrain. It was not funny but it was stimulating. Good acting, a powerful film. Not as life threatening or suspenseful as Tears From the Sun or Behing Enemy Lines, but still good. I liked it better than Babel since the Mexican maid who took the children across the border is just stupid. I did not like that scene nor her line of thinking. But Babel took us more places and was perhaps a little longer.

I would recommend this movie. Theron is really skinny, she is not as hot as she used to be. I have not been big on her since The Italian Job.

I allocate this movie three stars.***

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