Mexico's Guillermo Arriaga, who made his mark as an innovative writer with his magnificent screenplays for Alejandro González Iñárritu's 21 Grams and Babel, makes his directorial debut with Burning Plain, another fragmented tale about the emotionally fragmented set in disparate times and locations.
For better or worse, the new film relies on the same narrative bells and whistles.
A classic melodrama about thwarted desire, failed relationships, and unrealized dreams, Plain delivers solid turns from a stellar cast led by Charlize Theron, Joaquim de Almeida, and Kim Basinger, and a breakout performance by the remarkably radiant 18-year-old Jennifer Lawrence.
The film opens with an image of a lone trailer burning to the ground in the middle of a barren wilderness. We learn that the fire killed an adulterous couple (Basinger and de Almeida) who were cheating on their respective spouses. Later, we learn about their ill-fated romance and its effect on their families.