More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Advertisement

Overall Rating
4.08

Awesome42.47%
Worth A Look: 39.73%
Average: 2.74%
Pretty Bad: 13.7%
Total Crap: 1.37%

5 reviews, 43 user ratings



Proposition, The (2006)
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Jay Seaver

"Bloody great western."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2006 INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL OF BOSTON: Just when you think the Western has been completely de-romanticized, someone goes and makes a movie that shows you that there was still, in fact, a little rose coloring left in those glasses. For "The Proposition", director John Hilcoat and writer Nick Cave manage this by packing the whole works up and shipping it to a hot, insect-ridden corner of the Australian Outback. There they drop a nasty moral dilemma on us, with the only way to the other side through a violent path of blood. It's fantastic.

The proposition of the title is a simple one - two of the three notorious Burns brothers have been captured. Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone), in charge of the local garrison, makes Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) a terrible offer: He will hang youngest brother Mike (Richard Wilson) in seven days unless Charlie brings back the corpse of their oldest brother, Arthur (Danny Huston). It's a terrible deal, but Charlie takes it - Mikey is a little slow and decent-hearted, and Arthur is a sociopath; if Stanley keeps his word, Charlie and Mike will go free. But a lot can happen in a week: The Burns gang is all being held responsible for the brutal slaughter of a local family, and don't take kindly to the idea of any of them getting off scott-free - even Stanley's wife Martha (Emily Watson) disagrees with this tactic. The natives are stirred up and ready to kill any white man. And as much as Charlie has come to hate his older brother and took Mike away from his influence, he's going to try to find a way to save both.

There's nothing glamorous or even ruggedly sexy about this place and time. It's hot, there are insects everywhere, the English and Irish don't think much of each other and their expansion is making the conflicts with the Aborigines worse. As much as Stanley is monstrous for asking Charlie to choose between the lives of two brothers, he operates with a certain amount of honor. His determination to civilize the land occasionally comes across as being megalomanic, but the facets which are noble win the audience over - he wants a place where his quiet wife who observes all the niceties can be safe and not seem like a dainty anomaly. He seems barely able to hold things together at times, but he has his eye on a better world.

Arthur Burns is his complete opposite. He's charming and articulate, handsome in a grimy way. He's a born leader who commands not just the respect, but the love of his followers. He's an alpha monster; killers like Samuel Stote (Tom Budge) just fall into line behind him. That's why Charlie and Mikey abandoning the gang is so galling, even as he admits Mikey isn't made for that kind of life; a man murders, rapes and steals as he likes can't brook defiance from his own kin.

As much as Charlie is the film's protagonist, Arthur and Stanley are probably the film's two most impressive creations - opposite forces tugging at him while still being complex individuals. Pearce, then, has to internalize both, trying to do the right thing by the brother who needs his protection while also knowing that "the right thing" isn't going to get an Irish outlaw very far. His character is determined, but it's hard for him to not be drowned out by the other actors' performances.

One of the things that sets The Proposition apart from other westerns is the level of violence. The film opens with Mike and Charlie pinned and shooting it out with the law; it's a tight, claustrophobic sequence that sets the tone but still allows us to be shocked at how graphic it is when a man has half his head blown away without warning. The explicit blood and guts, meanwhile, make the atrocities that aren't shown even more horrifying in our minds. American or Australian, the frontier is a dangerous, lawless place, where brutal choices must be made to survive. Hilcoat never lets up with this; even the scenes of beautiful unspoiled land have harsh lighting or dirty, violent men in the frame. Emily Watson, with her porcelain-white face and light-colored clothing, almost looks like someone from another movie digitally edited in amongst the unshaven crowd. Writer Nick Cave (most famous as a singer/songwriter) grinds any hope for a happy ending into the ground, though he does it without it seeming gratuitous; this is just the way it is, not a series of events devised by a cruel god or screenwriter to crush the characters' spirits.

"The Proposition" is grim, gritty, and graphic; an almost classical tragedy. Those looking for the romance of the wide-open spaces of the frontier won't find any here. If you want tension and fear and a man trying to serve two imperfect masters, though, this proposition is a good one.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12771&reviewer=371
originally posted: 05/03/06 02:04:28
[printer] printer-friendly format  
For more in the Australian series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Portland Film Festival For more in the 2006 Portland Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 San Francisco Independent Film Festival For more in the 2006 San Francisco Independent Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Independent Film Festival of Boston For more in the 2006 Independent Film Festival of Boston series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2006 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

11/02/10 PAUL SHORTT HARSH BUT POWERFUL 3 stars
2/09/10 Will Tomory Cliched, predictable, laughable gore pore 2 stars
12/04/08 Shaun Wallner Great Film! 5 stars
11/03/08 brian Poorly developed, unnecessarily gory, but very well made. 3 stars
5/26/08 mr.mike It was pretty good 4 stars
11/28/07 Edwin Menguin Mesmerising 5 stars
9/23/07 John Howard absolutely superb - Australian drama at its best! 4 stars
8/22/07 harry very good film..the more times you watch it the more you appreciate it 5 stars
8/16/07 Rose Pasibe The is probably the best western I've seen. Jaw dropping!! 5 stars
5/20/07 Derek Fleek Pretty good Australian film 4 stars
10/31/06 Indrid Cold Nick Cave shouldn't quit his day job. Well, actually he should quit that too. 2 stars
10/23/06 John S. here are the "quarters" where it was well recieved: Sundance, NY Times, Boston Globe etc. 5 stars
10/11/06 Lance Not a good film....a GREAT film...best western since 'Unforgiven" 5 stars
10/08/06 daniel excellent western, good guys are not always good, bad guys not necessarily bad 4 stars
9/20/06 James Craig Wow, a real moralistic quagmire. Great! 5 stars
8/31/06 porfle I think it's a great Western. 4 stars
8/19/06 jcjs drop dead wow in action, acting, truth, visual, entertainment, intense, as good as it gets 5 stars
6/11/06 S.K.Adams Stunning, in story and photography. 5 stars
6/10/06 Ole Man Bourbon Not great--kinda wishy-washy 4 stars
6/09/06 Melissa Sonnen fantastic, smart, entertaining 5 stars
5/31/06 Jacqueline Flawed. The good guy is n anarchist racists and the bad guy also. 2 stars
5/30/06 Alissa Love it! 5 stars
5/29/06 hdfeldmann@aol.com Visually stunning, great music, unnecessarily gory and bloodyand difficult to understand 4 stars
5/15/06 Mase Down and dirty, visually stunning but perhaps lacking a soul. Great western aussie flick. 4 stars
5/08/06 chienne Savage & depressing. But very good. 4 stars
5/08/06 lee Great film!!!! 5 stars
4/01/06 MP Bartley Offbeat, but savage, poetic and powerful. Winstone and Watson are superb. 4 stars
3/12/06 Graham A full-on, gory, Gothic, poetic Western, just like how I like 'em. 5 stars
2/20/06 Todahe Well done! 4 stars
11/27/05 Kobbo Good stuff! 5 stars
10/26/05 Bill Fock Outstanding, very violent. 5 stars
10/26/05 Mr Majestic Bleak, gritty, amazing film. Extraordinary. Ray Winstone was GREAT! 5 stars
10/23/05 John Tracey simply great 5 stars
10/15/05 Tom Dutkowski Brutal, Violent, gripping. A story to match the outback landscape. 5 stars
10/08/05 john bale Violent film suggesting a hard land brutalises those trying to tame it. 5 stars
10/08/05 SUzanne Howard Undercooked script & overcooked production. No character development. Boring & clumsy. 2 stars
10/07/05 Danno the Movie Manno Finally a good Aussie film... 5 stars
10/06/05 fred Amazing...A fantastic Film 5 stars
10/03/05 Anna Beautiful, brutal and completely uncompromising in every respect. 5 stars
9/28/05 E. Northam Intriguing script; superbly cast; intelligently directed; magnificent use of natural design 5 stars
9/25/05 wong kar wai sucks!!! 1 stars
9/22/05 Jane bloody good movie - not typically my preference but the movie makes more than up for that 5 stars
9/02/05 Jim Johnson Awesome movie, with even more awesome soundtrack by Cave, check it out. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:


Discuss this movie in our forum

USA
  05-May-2006 (R)
  DVD: 19-Sep-2006

UK
  10-Mar-2006

Australia
  06-Oct-2005


Directed by
  John Hillcoat

Written by
  Nick Cave

Cast
  Tom Budge
  Guy Pearce
  Emily Watson
  Ray Winstone
  David Wenham
  John Hurt



Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
eFilmCritic.com: Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast