movie film review | chris tookey


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  Proposition  Review
Tookey's Rating
5 /10
Average Rating
6.93 /10
, Charlie Burns - Guy Pearce , Capt. Stanley - Ray Winstone
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Directed by: John Hillcoat
Written by: Nick Cave

Released: 2005
Origin: Australia/ UK
Colour: C
Length: 104

Arty “western”, set in the lawless Down Under, with as the sheriff an obviously English-born Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone, pictured) bent on civilising the outback, in tandem with his genteel, tea-sipping wife (Emily Watson).
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Stanley makes a proposition to the older one (Guy Pearce). The lad will be spared if Pearce goes off and kills his big brother, the psychotic leader of their gang (Danny Huston, giving us an impersonation of a jovially Oirish Charles Manson, celebrating family life as he peppers his enemies with bullets and rapes their womenfolk).

The narrative effectively splits in two, as Pearce goes off in search of his brother and comes across a splendidly malodorous bounty-hunter (John Hurt) doing the same. Meanwhile, Winstone tries to cope with his condescending superior (David Wenham, regally stiff) and subordinate lawmen who seem no better than the ruffians they are chasing.

The movie comes to a memorably nasty climax, as Huston’s gang attacks the town and threatens to ruin Winstone’s family Christmas in no uncertain manner. There are deliberate echoes of Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs in the extreme nature of the violence, as well as echoes of Sergio Leone’s westerns, especially The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, in the elegant framing of shots.

Benoit Delhomme’s cinematography captures the desolate savagery of the outback, and director John Hillcoat gets the best out of his cast. The reason The Proposition won’t impress the public as much as it will some critics, is that the pace is far too slow, with an inordinate number of lingering sunsets and would-be mythic framings of the leading characters.

As a consequence, there is little time to flesh out their personalities, and too much of the film drags. This is a handsome, and sometimes a gripping, movie, but it’s never a moving one.

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