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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 14 April 2017
A western set in the Australian outback. Violent and brutal with memorable performances by Ray Winstone and John Hurt. An interesting premise with predictable outcomes, and not for the faint-hearted.
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on 27 April 2017
Good value thank you
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on 30 July 2017
Very Violent!
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A new cinematic sub genre now exists. The Australian western. The Proposition though transplants the mythic landscape of The American versions into a broiling sun/sand blasted fly plagued hell hole. It's not a nice place, slavered in heart that regularly fluctuates between 40-50 degrees centigrade. You sort of wonder why anyone would want to be there in the first place.

But there people are, in 1880 the British have set up a settlement in Banyon, a newly established town in Queensland. Overseen by Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) who along with his wife Martha (Emily Watson) have made a futile attempt to relocate their homeland into this godforsaken place with their net curtains carefully tended garden and roast Sunday lunches the settlement is under a pall of fear after a vicious gang of outlaws led by the psychopathic Arthur Burns (Danny Huston) have slaughtered a family of settlers. Stanley eager to tame this frontier land hunts down and captures Burns brothers Charlie (Guy Pearce) and his semi-retarded kid brother Mikey (Richard Wilson) and offers Charlie a gut wrenching proposal. In order to save Mickey and himself from the hangman he must hunt and kill his older brother.

Given 9 days to carry out this onerous task Charlie sets out on a journey redolent of Marlow's search for Kurtz in Conrad's "Heart Of Darkness", into an unforgiving unknown with god knows what horrors at the end of it.

The Proposition is as, everyone remotely interested in the film knows, is written by Nick Cave , and anyone familiar with his music, most notably it's preoccupation with death , murder and brutal lyricism , and also his novel "And The Ass Saw The Angel" will not be too surprised at the levels of violence. The blood letting is in all truth a little over the top straying too close to horror grand guignol at times but the exceptional performances by all the cast with notable cameos from John Hurt as aged bounty hunter Jellon Lamb and the expressive script more than compensate.

Directed by John Hillcoat who has collaborated with Cave on the film "Ghosts of The Civil Dead" who in turn wrote the rather fine sound track for Hillcoats "To Have And To Hold"( Cave provides the soundtrack here along with Bad Seeds stalwart Warren Ellis) the films themes are multi layered and complex utilising a number of dichotomous situations- family ties versus survival, civilisation versus the frontier, the subjugation of an indigenous population versus their willing co-operation , to produce a film that echoes richly with themes common with the traditional western yet gives them a slightly contemporary sadistic twist without compromising any of it's poetry or emotional resonance.

The western is alive and well and currently residing in Australia, but it's a more savage beast by far .
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There's nothing like a good western and "The Proposition" delivers the sharp-shooting goods non-stop. Director John Hillcoat has a true knack for thrusting the feel and grit of the Australian Outback in your face and keeping it there. From the first moment of a hardcore gunfight, we soon learn that Capt. Stanley has captured two of the four Burns brothers, noted for their murderous and especially heinous past. The Captain's proposition is for Brother Charlie to find and kill his older brother, Arthur. Otherwise, he will kill his younger brother, Mikey. Thus, Charlie ventures to the Outback. The large scale cinematography makes one feel like dirt is in your mouth and death is at your door. This is not for the timid, as Hillcoat bloodies the landscape just as much as any Clintwood western. It's graphic as hell. The final act shouldn't be a surprise, but Hillcoat pulls off a stunt of `switch and bait' that will make you laugh with shock even as you shake your head in disbelief. This is a classic western by way of a rough, vicious and clever Australia.
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on 5 October 2013
This unusual film set in the Australian Outback in the 1880's,has a storyline that is uncomplicated but its telling is both gripping and develops the characters in depth. It is of the Western genre and tell the story of a Police Captain, who frees one of the brothers of a violent gang of brothers on the understanding that he has 9 days to kill the Gang Leader (His brother) and he will release the one brother( A young simpleton) who is in jail and pardon him.

This action enrages the the small community and the film goes in depth to the the reactions of them as well as the relationship of the Police Captain with his well bred English wife and the Town Mayor. While this is going on we look at the Characters of the Burns Gang against a backdrop of the stark beauty of the Australian Outback. Interspersed with all this are scenes of graphic violence that equals anything that Quenton Tarantino has done but are an essential part of the film as parts of Australia in the 1880's were extremely violent, with the massacre of the Aborigines(like the Indians in the American West)in the name of bringing British Style Law and Order to the Territory.

It is a thought provoking film of great depth. The acting of all the players is outstanding, the script and music of the highest standard, while John Hillcoat's direction is superb. Finally the cinematography is outstanding with stark magnificent scenery.

This is a must see film but it is not for the faint hearted as the violence is graphic but very necessary to the story and depicts the brutality of the era.
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on 1 September 2015
A dark, brooding synth creeps over the cracked, sandy landscape drained dry of all life. Strained violin strings trace the prints of four riders on horseback wearing revenge on their cloaks that dance violently in the evening breeze. Heavy drum beats introduce decayed, decapitated corpses which inhabit a blizzard of flies that call putrefaction their home. Piano strings introduce the sombre melancholy of despair, misanthropy and nihilism that pervades. Charred silhouettes of a once-domestic refuge serve as postcard reminders of the devil's wrath. A whip is caked in a young boy's blood as he remains hoisted, like Jesus crucified in front of toddlers and the elderly for daytime entertainment. A bounty hunter, staring to the heavens, waiting for an answer, bleeds out like a stuck pig as he recites poetry to his famed killer and smiles sweetly. Welcome to Australia. This is British Colonial times. And a proposition has been made.

Brutal, blistering and unflinching, this is no holds barred filmmaking, which grabs the viewer by the throat, heart and soul. Nick Cave, Warren Ellis and John Hillcoat all work in harmonious tandem to deliver a blood-stained, drought-stricken tale of depravity, hate and literature seton the Western outbacks of Australia. With Guy Pearce, Danny Huston, Ray Winstone, John Hurt and Emily Watson taking centre-stage, watch and behold as they walk unknowingly into a dangerous conflict where a positive outcome is far outreaching.

The cinematography tracks Charlie Burns as he traverses the Western plains, gun in hand. Mikey brutally punished and beaten for all the crowd to see. A flicker, just for a moment, of Arthur Burns' haunting, dogman face as he stares intensely out at the blue dusk. Martha, back turned, reflects on her maternal moment of newborn revelry in the bath tub to Captain Stanley, who tears at the mere thought of a pregnant women being raped and burned alive. It's gorgeous in its presentation and poetic in it's delivery, bolstered by the iron-strong screenplay written by also-composer Nick Cave. These men breathe an air that's as suffocating and sickening as the violence they plunge themselves in. Happiness and mercy are the words of the heathens. You'll never hear 'O Peggy Gordon' the same again.

"When," said the moon to the stars in the sky,
"Soon," said the wind that followed the moon,
"Who," said the cloud that started to cry,
"Me," said the rider, dry as a bone...
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The Proposition has the kind of premise that Anthony Mann would have loved - wild colonial boy Guy Pearce is released into the outback to kill his psychotic older brother Danny Huston to save his younger brother from the noose by Ray Winstone's policeman determined to civilize his godforsaken corner of 19th century Australia. Unfortunately it never quite makes enough of it. Coming to it after both the excessive praise and the equally excessive backlash I wasn't disappointed, although the film does have problems. The most obvious is that screenwriter Nick Cave and director John Hillcoat become so enamoured of Winstone's character that he dominates the film to the detriment of not only the other players but the film itself: while there's none of his scenes that should be cut, neither Pearce nor Huston get nearly as much screentime. As a result, the central moral dilemma is kept firmly backstage and Huston's nature is only really hinted at rather than explored, although the violence, when it comes, is convincingly blunt. But at times it's almost as if Coppola had decided that instead on concentrating on Martin Sheen's killer in Apocalypse Now he'd make a film about the officer who sends him out to terminate with extreme prejudice instead.

It's a film with great things going for it - there's some fine dialogue, Hillcoat has a great visual sense and a striking eye for the Scope frame, while an underplayed Winstone is superb - but one that never becomes great.

Also released on a film-only single disc edition, Tartan's original 2-disc DVD doesn't include the featurettes from the US disc and the packaging gets the running time of the making of documentary wrong - it's 27 minutes, not 118 (that's the combined length with the cast and crew interviews), but is still a very good package, with an excellent 2.35:1 widescreen transfer.
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on 11 March 2015
Very violent from beginning to end, in fact the end is worse than the beginning...its a very gritty and raw film, generally quite stunned after i saw it the first time...left me feeling quite uncomfortable. I wouldn't recommend watching this film if you are under 21 suffer from a nervous disposition, are female (because there are some nasty rape scenes in it) - generally this film is quite messed up, it has decapitation in it too, generally not a nice film to watch, it will make you feel cold afterwards and thinking OMG i can't believe i just watched this? However, on the plus side, the film does have great acting in it, and has excellently researched guns and costumes for the period it is set in...so probably a man's film, i only bought this because it was recommended to me after i bought ned kelly? But this is way way more gritty and vivid than ned kelly! No comparison at all...this film is disturbed, but its artistic with it, sort of, if you can get past all the vivid and graphic shootings/ beatings etc... Generally not sure what to make of this film, not the sort of film you'd probably want to see more than once to be honest, as it is quite harrowing and ultra violent. I prefer my westerns a bit more gentle...
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on 27 May 2014
Interesting in that its a western but in Australia and you do get an uncomfortable glimpse into the mistreatment of the Aborigine people as well as how rough it must have been for settlers there.

The storyline meanders about a bit but the plot is predictable and lacks sophistication. There is no main character or dialogue in the film and you find yourself watching it rather than getting into it.

Its not terrible and it is watchable so 3 stars.
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