The Proposition review
This is a repost of a review I wrote back in 2006.
In The Proposition (2005), the brother’s Burns are some of the most wanted criminals on the Australian Outback. When Charlie (Guy Pearce) and Mikey (Richard Wilson) are captured after a shootout, they’re presented with a ghoulish “proposition” by their captor Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone). If Charlie goes out into the wild and kills their older and more vicious brother Arthur (Danny Huston), both he and Mikey will be released. If he refuses or cannot carryout his task, Mikey will be hung on Christmas day.
The Proposition has great cinematography, good acting and a good story. But what hurts the film is a second act that drags on a bit too long. I’m not sure if it’s the script or editing, but The Proposition almost comes to a complete stop during that second act and doesn’t start back up again until the near the end of the movie.
The Australia in The Proposition is something I’m not sure has ever been seen before on film. The stagecoaches are lead by camels and Aborigines have replaced the Indians. And though the brother’s Burns look and act much like outlaws we’ve seen before in other westerns, they speak with Irish accents and follow Irish traditions.
At once this Australia is one of the most violent places on Earth (people die in some of the most inhumane ways) while at the same time people like Captain Stanley are doing their bit for “Queen and Country” to bring a bit of “civilization” to the place. (Even if while at the same time he murders Aborigines while flying the British flag.)
It’s a familiar and alien world at the same time.
The Proposition is worth seeing. It seems to me that writer Nick Cave and director John Hillcoat tried to push the bounds of the western to the next level. And for the most part that’s exactly what they’ve done, though just be prepared for the movie to drag a bit. (8/10)