Tonight, my Beloved and I watched “The Burning Plain,” a cleverly constructed drama from 2008 about a sommelier, a crop duster in Mexico and a woman having a steamy affair with a Latino.
[I just had to throw “sommelier” out there. One of the characters actually is a sommelier, but when I used that word to reconstruct the story for my Beloved, whose attention lapsed momentarily, he said, “What? What’s a sommelier?” “You know, the woman at the restaurant in the beginning?” “You mean Charlize Theron?” “Yes, her. She’s a sommelier.” “Who uses the word ‘sommelier’ in everyday conversation?”]
[A sommelier is a wine expert in a restaurant.]
I’m as big a fan of nonlinear narrative as I am of big words, and “The Burning Plain” tells its story in a compelling nonlinear way.
At first, I was impressed with Kim Basinger, who I had assumed was a has-been, but she oozes sexuality and desperation so effectively, I both loved and pitied her.
About halfway through, I figured out what was going on, but by then I was caught up in the characters and wondering how the story would resolve. Brilliant storytelling.
[“Memento,” the story of a man with short-term memory loss told in reverse order, is another one of those movies that compels viewers to watch it a second time to put all the pieces together.]
Though I have no proof other than deja vu and coincidence, I believe linear time is a human construct. I’m not convinced everything actually happens in sequential, chronological order; I think we human beings with our puny understanding simply experience it that way. So to see a movie that plays with chronology and tells an interesting story fascinates me.
As the final credits rolled on “The Burning Plain,” I said the same phrase I uttered at the end of another nonlinear flick, “The Lake House,” a time-travel romance starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock: “I wish I could write a story like that!”
To which my Beloved, ever the optimistic cheerleader even as he scoffs at my vocabulary, replied: “Why don’t you?”
If I was really clever, I would have written this post in a nonlinear narrative fashion.
But I’m not that clever.