Director: John Hillcoat

Starring: Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Emily Watson

Year: 2005

I watched The Proposition what’s fast becoming many years ago, and, although I didn’t know that it would stick with me, I seem to reference it a lot, so I figured it was high time I watched it with a critical eye and gave it a proper review.  But if you’re pressed for time, I could give you the short version: it’s fucking great.  Well, only if you love gritty, dirty, bloody, raw, Australian Westerns, because that’s exactly what this film is, a brutal look at a brutal country at a time when brutality was the only language spoken.  That genre, the Outback Outlaw, might not be for everyone, but if it’s your cup of tea, as it is mine, then The Proposition should rattle your windows a bit, and will perhaps stick with with you as well.

Three Irish brothers, along with their comrades, make up the Burns Gang, of which Arthur Burns is the leader.  They terrorize the Australian countryside near a town called Banyan, where a local British officer named Stanley is in charge of keeping the peace, and has vowed to bring the brothers to justice.  When Arthur goes one step too far, with the murder of an entire family, one step too close to absolute ruthlessness and pure evil, his younger brother Charlie leaves the group, taking the youngest, dimwitted Mikey, along with him.  Captured by Stanley, Charlie Burns is given a proposition; kill his brother Arthur with his own hands before Christmas Day, or his beloved Mikey will be hanged, the crimes of all laid only at his feet.

This is John Hillcoat’s best film by far: The Proposition, The Road, Lawless, Triple Nine.  In it, he channels the style that I have grown to love; death in the Wild South.  Australia was basically England’s frontier land, while Americans had the West, and those eras in those places mirrored each other greatly.  The native people, the harsh environment, the sins of expansion, the terrors of criminality; Hillcoat captures it all so well.  With an incredible soundtrack to drive the mood, The Proposition is half melancholy and half murderous, with excellent performances from its leads and from its side characters as well: Pearce, Winstone, Watson, John Hurt, Danny Huston, David Wenham, and David Gulpilil (who is an amazing Aboriginal Australian actor: Crocodile Dundee, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Tracker, The Proposition, Australia, Goldstone, Cargo).  This movie is artistic enough, realistic enough, presents multiple viewpoints, never bores, often shocks; all the genre has to offer, on display right here.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆



By ochippie

Writer, Critic, Dad Columbus, Ohio, USA Denver Broncos, St. Louis Cardinals Colorado Avalanche, Duke Blue Devils