Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Proposition

The Proposition is Nick Cave's first screen-writing outing since his 1988 debut Ghosts...Of The Civil Dead. The Proposition is set in 19th Century Australia and begins with the tail-end of a shoot out where we meet two of the four Burns brothers, Charlie and Mike. They are captured by Captain Stanley, played by Ray Winstone, as he makes a proposition to Charlie, played by Guy Pearce, that if he brings back his two outlaw brothers, he will let himself and his brother Mike go free as Mike is an all but innocent teenager caught up in his brothers life of murder, rape and pilage and possibly believes that Charlie is a man of redemption. If he does not return with his other two brothers, however, then Mike will hang on Christmas Day all but nine days away.

There is a great cinematic feel to this movie with some beautiful shots of outback Austrailia and direction by John Hillcoat, also responsible for directing Nick Cave's debut screenplay. There is also an outstanding bit-part by John Hurt who plays Jellon Lamb, a bounty-hunter out to kill Charlie's brother Arthur, played by Danny Huston. The movie covers a time in Austrailia when local garrisons in the outback would mount punitivie expeditions to anihilate whole communities of indigenous people. A time when people in a town would gather to watch some captured outlaw be flogged to within an inch of his life or worse. It was a time of brutality and this is captured with the context of the story itself.

It is a well told and excellently directed story but I should also mention some minor drawbacks. Although Nick Cave is an accomplished muscian, the film soundtrack that he has composed does not fit well with the movie and is occasionally distracting from what is going on onscreen. There is also a role of Captain Stanley's wife played by Emily Watson that is simply untenable at times and this also detracts from the story as I believe her role could actually be removed without any difference to the storyline or possibly enhanced had it been portrayed in a different light or even by a different actress. Nevertheless, these minor quibbles that dampen segments of the film do not take away the overall enjoyment of the movie and it is well worth tracking down.

I would give this movie 3.5 floggings out of 5.



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