The Proposition

Rated 4.0

When I heard that macabre musician Nick Cave wrote a movie, it dawned on me that this movie would perhaps be a tad disturbing. When I saw The Proposition, that assumption was confirmed. Directed with grim majesty by John Hillcoat, this is one of the dirtiest, sweatiest films ever put to screen. Set in the Australian outback in the late 1800s, it plays like Apocalypse Now down under. The film’s dark vision is as unrelenting as your average Cave album. Well-meaning but fed-up lawman Captain Stanley (a terrific Ray Winstone) captures brothers Charlie and Mike Burns (Guy Pearce and Richard Wilson) after a bloody shootout. It’s alleged that these two brothers, along with a third named Arthur (Danny Huston), have committed unimaginable atrocities on a crime spree, and Captain Stanley decides to make a proposition. He will hold Mike, the simplest of the three brothers, in a jail cell until Christmas. If the holiday arrives and Arthur still breathes, Mike will hang by his neck until he is dead. If Charlie tracks and kills Arthur by Christmas Day, Mike’s life will be spared. A gritty, hard-to-watch film that is both beautiful and very ugly.