The Proposition was released in 2005 and was directed by John Hillcoat, who also directed The Road. The screenplay was written by music legend Nick Cave, hilariously down as ‘Mick’ Cave on my DVD cover. The film stars Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston and a scenery chewing John Hurt.
This Western, or should that be ‘Eastern’, takes place in 1880s Australia. Irishman Charlie Burns (Pearce) is a member of the Burn’s Gang and he and his brother are captured by Captain Stanley (Winstone). Stanley offers him a proposition, saying that if Charlie will deliver him his brother Arthur by Christmas Day, then he and his brother Mikey will be set free. If he fails Mikey will be hanged. Arthur (Huston) is wanted for the rape and murder of a local woman, who was expecting a child at the time. Charlie has nine days in which to complete his task.
Along the way he meets a bounty-hunter named Jellon Lamb (Hurt), who is after the Burn’s Gang. Meanwhile Captain Stanley must contend with his unhappy wife, his disgruntled men and his extremely sleazy boss Mr Fletcher (David Wenham).
Australia plays a huge role in this picture. It looks like an unforgiving hell-hole and the people living there lead hard lives. The cinematography is stunning, showing off how bleak and desolate the outback is. You can see the searing heat rising up on camera and swarms of flies congregate everywhere. You can almost taste the dust in your mouth, much like the actors were, I imagine.
The acting is absolutely top-notch and the film features the finest Irish accents I have ever heard. Instead of some embarrassing begorrah accent we are treated to well researched Irish lilts. Pearce, who is always a brilliant actor, turns in another fine performance in the lead role. The acting award goes to Danny Huston, however. As Arthur Burns, he plays a violent, psychotic lunatic, who happens to be a lover of poetry and philosophy. He is truly gripping and is a real highlight in a film stuffed with them.
The Proposition has a magnificent soundtrack, written and composed by Nick Cave and his associate, Warren Ellis. The main violin piece, which enters the film just after seven minutes in, is breathtaking. It is haunting and plaintive, and suits the film completely. The other songs are also very memorable.
This is a very violent movie and is an 18 certificate through and through. It features very gory gunshots, stabbings and vicious beatings. It also contains a very graphic whipping scene. If you have issues with any of these I suggest you avoid this film.
This is a cracking movie and is ten years old this year. It is one of the best modern Westerns that you are likely to see. Featuring a taut script, gripping performances and an incredible setting, this is not be missed.