A powerful western drama set in the savage Eden of 1880s Australia, The Proposition
is an elemental story of family conflict and primal violence, destructive love and divided loyalties. Featuring an international superstar cast including Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, Emily Watson and Danny Huston, it is directed by John Hillcoat from a specially commissioned script by the globally acclaimed singer-songwriter Nick Cave. Cave has also composed the film's soundtrack in conjunction with Warren Ellis, his longtime Bad Seeds collaborator and multi-instrumentalist frontman of The Dirty Three. Incorporating soft chamber pieces, ghostly moodscapes and whispered laments, these 16 tracks are as starkly beautiful as the landscape of the film. Story and music are closely intertwined.
A look at the synopsis of Nick Cave's plot for The Proposition - riddled as it is with violence, loss, revenge and brutal Victorian Outback reality - will seem all too familiar to fans of the tall Australian's musical oeuvre.
Yet this collection of taut, haunting half-songs, hymns and laments proves to be quite unlike Cave's usual Bad Seed fare. This is, in part, down to the involvement of the brilliant Warren Ellis.
Hidden among the twisting bleak strings and echoed piano the pair even manage to nail in a couple of fully made pieces - notably the redemption-filled "Rider Song" - before they go riding off in a cloud of understated dust.
The topics may be the same, but this time round, they're discussed with a sigh, not a scream, and are all the more striking for it. --Chris Long
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