Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Title:The Proposition
Cast: Guy Pearce, Emily Watson, Danny Huston, Ray Winstone, David Wenham, John Hurt
Director: John Hillcoat

Three brothers. Wanted outlaws. Notorious across the Australian outback. At one point they were close. They rode together. But the older brother, he was a little wild, a little too wild. The middle brother didn't like that, so he took the younger brother, who was a little bit slow, and took him away from the older brother. Still, it was a life of crime they led, and they were wanted.

Cornered by the police. No way out. It looks like the two brothers have been captured. The head of police sits the brothers down. He makes the middle brother, the clever one, an offer. He makes him a proposition - I'll set you free, he says, i'll give you a horse and a gun, and I'll set you free, now, tell me what I want, he says. The middle brother looks at him, you want me to stop my older brother. Thats right says the policeman, I want you to stop your older brother, and if you don't I'll hang your younger brother on Christmas day.

So. What is he going to do? He is going to saddle up with Nick Cave and Warren Ellis and ride into the desert looking for his brother - riding his horse through the outback, picked out by sunsets and accompanied by Cave and Ellis's music at every moment. Till he finds his brother.

The Proposition is raw and dirty western set in Australia, with Ray Winstone and Emily Watson as the refined face of British colonialism and Danny Houston and Guy Pearce as the face of the outlaws. The screenplay was written by the Australian musician Nick Cave, who also does the soundtrack with his old collaborator Warren Ellis of the Dirty Three. The film is atmospheric, building on the sparseness of the landscape and the soundtrack for effect. Though the soundtrack is a little invasive at times, so that we feel as though we are watching backdrop for the music, rather than the music being to compliment the visuals.

I'm not particularly a fan of Winston, who seems to be held in excessively high regard, though he does capture the weariness of a dead end policeman out of his depth and at his wits end. The dynamic between the brothers played by Pearce and Houston works well, the two putting in admirable performances. The Proposition is a decent film, a little self-indulgent at times, but worth seeing.

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