out of Five
Running time: 104
Atmospheric, violent and intense western, with an intriguing script by Nick Cave and terrific performances from Winstone, Pearce and Huston.
The Proposition is an example of what could turn out to be a very promising genre indeed: the Australian Outback Western
. It’s directed by John Hillcoat (who made the little-seen Ghosts…of the Civil Dead
) and written by music icon Nick Cave, who also provides a memorable score.
The film is set in the Australian Outback in the 1880s. When British Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) captures wanted criminal Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) and his simple-minded younger brother Mikey (Richard Wilson), he makes Charlie a proposition. If Charlie tracks and kills his brutal older brother Arthur (Danny Huston), then Stanley will pardon both Charlie and Mikey; if not, he’ll hang Mikey on Christmas Day.
There’s a genuine sense of impending doom that hangs over The Proposition, as the audience senses that this isn’t going to end happily. This is compounded still further by the fact that there is no obvious hero. That said, at heart, this is still the classic western tale of civilisation versus lawlessness, with Huston’s character the embodiment of sheer evil.
The performances are superb. Winstone and Pearce strike exactly the right balance with their complex characters and intriguing characters, while Danny Huston is perfectly cast. His saturnine appearance and richly textured voice make Arthur a memorably chilling creation.
To sum up, The Proposition may not be to everyone’s tastes, but it has Cult Movie Of The Future written all over it and it’s well worth seeing if you like this sort of thing. Peckinpah fans in particular, will get a big kick out of it. Recommended.
The Proposition (18)