While a bit of a downer, it’s beautifully crafted with excellent performances, some great cinematography along with an amazingly stark and brutal landscape.
Set in Australia in the late nineteenth century (in terms of landscape and structure think about our wild west) The Proposition tells the tale of redemption and revenge. The story goes like this – a trio of brothers in a gang are wanted for brutal crimes. Now, who is guilty of what isn’t always clear, which begs the question of the issuing of the punishment which in those days wasn’t necessarily what you would call just or fair (hmmmm, sounds a little like our current court system). Anyway, to bring out the big brother who’s seen as the ringleader and ultimately the worst of the worst, the little brother is sentenced to hang unless the middle brother brings the eldest down.
Since this is frontier law, things don’t exactly work out as planned for anyone involved as the eventual breakdown occurs and chaos and conflict ensue. Perhaps that’s the lesson in here – is revenge worth the heavy price that comes with it? Is it right to want someone to be punished within an inch of life based on your own pain and perception? Who else pays the price? What about those that play innocent and turn a blind eye? Are they guilty too?
A heavy film with some heavy questions.
The screenplay for this was written by Nick Cave (yep, the musician). Well crafted, intelligent dialog flows well between the characters as the details play out. Noone seems out of place with the words that carry everyone through.
The acting is superb, each performer a great study in the craft. I’m a big Guy Pearce fan and he plays the gravity of the middle brother who’s torn between the other two with wonderful low-energy but high intensity where needed. Ray Winstone plays the policeman pitting the brothers against each other along with Emily Watson as his naive wife. Danny Huston plays the oldest brother expertly in such a way that makes you hate his guts but that you kind of might like to chat with him briefly just prior to watching him meeting his demise.
All in all a bit bleek but an excellent piece of filmmaking.
reviewed by Sean McKnight