Charlize Theron’s “Burning Plain”

 
 

Here’s some news that really struck my fancy: Charlize Theron is starring in and executive producing a new film, The Burning Plain, written by Guillermo Arriaga (21 Grams, Babel). And if you have ever had your fancy struck, you will know what a silly little smile it causes on your face. This bit of news also made me think, “Go on, Charlize, with your bad self.”

Charlize Theron is one of those actresses I root for. One I want to see have some measure of success. Obviously, she’s gorgeous, but good-looking women in Los Angeles who call themselves actresses are a dime a dozen. (OK, with inflation, let’s say $1.63 a dozen, which is still way cheaper than a gallon of gasoline or a bushel of organic fruit at Whole Foods.) In Theron’s case, there seems to be a unique star beneath that stunning surface.

The Burning Plain will feature Theron playing “a woman who tries to find common ground with her parents after a turbulent childhood.” The actress has firsthand knowledge of a turbulent childhood. Being raised in South Africa before the abolishment of apartheid and facing the death of her father at the hands of her mother surely must give a person a different filter on life in general and on maintaining perspective regarding celebrity and movie-making.

In professional reality, she has reached what some may argue is the summit of acting, as an Academy Award nominee and winner all before the age of 31. Sometimes the hill can begin to slope downward from that point. But with her, I’m banking on that not happening anytime soon, and this latest announcement is just another reason why. As beautiful as Theron is, it seems she views herself as a character actress, rather than as a Hollywood starlet who requires a man to do the leading on screen. As a matter of fact, in her two award-nominated films (Monster and North Country), she wasn’t a leading man’s leading lady at all. She was simply the lead character, and two convincing characters at that. Charlize Theron seems to be a “sisters doing it for themselves” type of woman. Who knew? Especially with those looks?

Theron and Arriaga have some real Academy Award oomph and recognition in their collective back pocket. Admittedly, I haven’t seen all of the films scripted by Guillermo Arriaga, nor all of the films starring Theron. But Arriaga’s Babel and 21 Grams were excellent vehicles for their stars (Oscar nominees Naomi Watts, Adriana Barraza and Rinko Kikuchi) and very compelling in general. In other words, the guy tells a good story! And to add whip cream, nuts and cherries, he writes good, solid roles for women. I’m thinking Theron knows going in that this won’t be another Aeon Flux … ouch.

Theron is a terrific actress (erase Aeon Flux from your memory, please) and her Oscar nominations and win were well deserved. She makes it clear that she’s not in the Hollywood “game” to showcase her drop-dead good looks; she wants to actually act and even bring understanding and compassion to the screen. Yes, I root for her, and no, it doesn’t hurt that she says that she won’t get married until lesbians and gays can legally marry. That’s just an extra nifty bonus reason I dig her.

 
 

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