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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


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Proposition, The (2006)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Should we call this a Vegemite Western?"
2 stars

Although it clearly strives to be put in the same category as the darkly revisionist genre classics made by such masters as Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah, the Australian western “The Proposition” is little more than a grim, ugly, foul, unpleasant, grisly and shamelessly derivative bit of blood-soaked nastiness with nary an original thought in its head. That in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing–straightforward westerns are so few and far between these days that most fans of the genre would be willing to overlook a certain lack of originality just to be able to see a new example on the big screen. No, the problem with the film is that it a grim, ugly, foul, unpleasant, grisly and shamelessly derivative bit of blood-soaked nastiness that is also astoundingly boring to boot. It knows the words of such a film but not the music and the result is such a flat and hackneyed bit of hackwork that it almost makes “Comin at Ya!” look like “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” by comparison.

Set in the Australian outback in the late 1800's, Guy Pearce stars as the violent and sadistic Charlie Burns, one of the three Burns brothers wanted for the brutal massacre of an entire family. When Charlie, along wit his younger brother, is captured by the violent and sadistic Capt. Stanley (Ray Winstone), he is offered a proposition–track down and bring in violent and sadistic older brother/ringleader Arthur (Danny Huston) in nine days (ending on Christmas, of course) in exchange for a pardon or the younger brother will hang.

It all devolves into a series of scenes of gory violence interrupted by enough conversations about loyalty and honor that suggest that screenwriter Nick Cave (yes, that Nick Cave) has indeed seen a lot of Sam Peckinpah movies, even if he clearly demonstrates no real understanding of them based on his work here–he gets the surface details but fails to dig deeper in a way that gives them the emotional power that similar scenes in Peckinpah’s work usually contained. Director John Hillcoat has recruited a top-notch cast here but they are all thoroughly wasted here–none more so than Emily Watson, who plays Winstone’s long-suffering wife, a character that seems to have been developed for no reason other than to allow her to be brutalized in a scene that also includes perhaps the most inappropriate rendition of “Peggy Gordon” ever performed.

Incredibly, “The Proposition” has received good reviews in certain quarters, apparently from people who figure that any movie this brutal and nihilistic must have some profound point to it. To those people, as well as the rest of you, I would gently suggest that you avoid this film like the plague and instead check out the new DVD of Peckinpah’s 1973 masterpiece “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,” a great and powerful meditation on loyalty and honor that makes a sorry bit of nonsense like “The Proposition” seem even more feeble and useless than it already is by comparison.<

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12771&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/19/06 14:16:11
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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!
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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



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