Burning Palms (2011)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

BURNING PALMS is a subversive tale that interlaces five stories where no taboo is left unexplored. Framed as a graphic novel come to life, the film unfolds in five popular neighborhoods of Los Angeles as each character careens toward a dark and often comic fate. Santa Monica: Dennis Marx (Dylan McDermott) and Dedra Davenport (Rosamund Pike) are waiting at the airport for Dennis' 14-year-old daughter Chloe (Emily Meade). From the second she arrives it is clear that she and her father do not have a conventional relationship. Dedra becomes so distraught and jealous that she kills herself. Westwood: Ginny Chen (Jamie Chung) and Chad Bower (Robert Hoffman) are a young couple in love. When Chad asks Ginny for an unusual sexual request, Ginny continually feels shame for her sin, punishing herself through self mutilation. West Hollywood: Geri (Peter Macdissi) and Tom (Anson Mount) are life partners, though they could not be more different. The two adopt a little girl from Africa named Mahogany (Tiara McKinney), but when the little girl doesn't meet their expectations of how they feel she should act, they abandon her in a state forest. Holmby Hills: Nicholas (Austin Williams), Trevor (Jake Austin Walker), and Colby Pinter (Addison Black) are three brothers who love making mischief and are raised by their pot smoking nanny Mary Jane (Lake Bell). When the household maid Blanca's (Paz Vega) dead child's umbilical cord goes missing, the three boys hold a trial in which a deep secret is revealed about the death of Blanca's baby, which probes Blanca to kill herself. In Sherman Oaks, Sarah Cotton (Zoe Saldana) is a young woman who finds herself a victim of rape. When her rapist flees, he leaves behind a crucial part of his identity: his wallet. Sarah tracks down Robert G. Kane (Nick Stahl) to a local pizza place. Instead of turning him in, Sarah wants him to rape her again. The underlying story beneath Burning Palms' five featured stories, is the different kinds of people who live in the unique neighborhoods that make up the entertainment capital of the world: Los Angeles. There have been previous films similar in design, but their separate storylines always intersect at the end. Burning Palms defies those expectations by keeping the stories separate and distinct. The only commonality is the presence of the "bag lady." There have also been many Los Angeles based films that speak to the 'magic' of Hollywood where struggling underdogs venture, and through twists of fate, make it big. But there is one aspect that is often overlooked and ignored in Hollywood: the average person. This film gives a good look at the people who aren't gracing magazine covers or starring on the big screen. Yet despite having average lives, these people prove that maybe they have a little bit Hollywood magic of their own-showing the world that nothing is ever like it seems. -- (C) New Films
R (for strong sexuality, violence including a rape, language and drug use)
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Adriana Barraza
as Louisa Alvarez
Robert Hoffman (X)
as Chad Bower
Lake Bell
as Mary Jane
Jamie Chung
as Ginny
Dylan McDermott
as Dennis Marx
Shannen Doherty
as Dr. Shelly
Zoe Saldana
as Sarah Cotton
Nick Stahl
as Robert Kane
Paz Vega
as Blanca Juarez
Emily Meade
as Chloe Marx
Tiara McKinney
as Mahogany
Austin Williams
as Nicholas Pinter
Naz Jafri
as Dr. Pakora
Ross Thomas
as Lukas 'The Waiter'
Lil' J
as Trey
Jim Lau
as Tak Bai
Haley Tju
as Rose
Kate Albrecht
as Tammy Lynn
Cici Lau
as Soon Li
Fabian Moreno
as Hector
Colleen Camp
as Barbara Burns
Tom Wright
as Maxwell Baron
Brad Martin
as Stunt 'Angry Guy'
Lisa Marie Dupree
as Busty Waitress
Edrick Browne
as Medical Center Guard
Chad Rose
as Stunt Security Guard
Jude Cambise
as Stunt Mental Patient
Robin Hart Smith
as Stunt Double (Blanca)
Devin McNair
as Stunt Orderly #1
H.B. Burns
as Stunt Orderly #2
John Bernecker
as Stunt Security Guard
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Burning Palms

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (4)

Christopher B. Landon's sordid anthology film never quite achieves the balance of melodrama and dark comedy for which it's aiming.

Full Review… | January 14, 2011
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Landon's sardonic view of human nature and deft filmmaking skills - plus a raft of sharp portrayals - keep the viewer from pondering the preposterousness of certain situations and instead encourages going along with the fun.

Full Review… | January 13, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Making his directorial debut, screenwriter Christopher Landon struggles so mightily to offend that he forgets to supply a rooting interest in his characters.

Full Review… | January 12, 2011
Top Critic

Burning Palms is too sick to attract the masses, but he's onto something subversively valid, and the film is never boring.

January 11, 2011
New York Observer
Top Critic

Little sensitivity here, but the film's obsession with grim deeds and sinister turns of fate lends the five stories a welcome kick of ugliness, which is a fascinating screen sensation.

Full Review… | January 20, 2011

Touching on taboo themes like rape, incest, and kinky bedroom exploits, Burning is a series of five Los Angeles-set short films that are only superficially provocative.

January 13, 2011
Screen International

Audience Reviews for Burning Palms


F***IN Crazy and Hilarious!!! For a low budget flick, it's put together very well. I would recommend this movie to my mature friends for some cheap, but definitely sadistic laughs! ENJOY! LOL!

Travis Boehm
Travis Boehm

the trailer to this film was everybody's quick opinion on the film as they left the cinema and everybody said how bad and disgusting it was. that made me really want to watch it. It did live up to my expectations and was funny as hell. I'll never look at an Asian girl the same again.

Shawn Montague
Shawn Montague

Super Reviewer


Five Tales That Will Mess You Up For Life. Not bad yet not great either. This film has many stories which could may be real in real life but totally messed up too. I think the cast was decently good and the director almost achieved his his goal but failed in alot other ways. Five tales of madness set in L.A. In "Green-Eyed Monster," a foul-mouthed 15-year-old comes home from private school to meet Dedra, the woman her dad plans to marry. Father-daughter antics creep Dedra out. In "Little Piggy," a woman can't get the stink off a finger she's used to stimulate her boyfriend during sex. "Buyer's Remorse" presents Tom and Gerry, a West Hollywood couple, who buy a child on the black market; she takes weeks to say her first word. In "Kangaroo Court," a nasty kid torments a maid in his household by stealing the placenta of her dead baby. In "Man Eater," a woman tracks down a rapist who has left his wallet at her house. When she finds him, what will she do?

Manu Gino
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

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