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The Proposition [Blu-ray/DVD] [Special Edition]
Region 1 USA/CA (
Australian director John Hillcoat first teamed up with singer Nick Cave on 1988's disturbing GHOSTS...OF THE CIVIL DEAD, for which Cave co-authored the screenplay and took a memorably brief acting role. The two reconvene for 2006's THE PROPOSITION, with Cave penning the screenplay and providing a soundtrack written with Dirty Three member Warren Ellis. Cave's 19th-century tale begins with the proposition of the title, as Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone) captures fugitive brothers Charley (Guy Pearce) and Mikey Burns (Richard Wilson) at a scene of bloody rape and murder. Informing Charley that he must kill his older brother, Arthur (Danny Huston), in order to be set free, Stanley drags Mikey to a decrepit jailhouse while he waits for Charley to carry out the deed. Hillcoat's Western reeks of the dry desert heat, with flies buzzing, temperatures soaring, and emotions spiraling out of control. As Charley reluctantly sets about his task, Hillcoat and cinematographer Benot Delhomme create a mesmerizing vision of the Australian outback. The slow, meandering pace of the film is peppered with brutal jolts of unremitting violence, and there are fine performances from the entire cast, who are supported in small but significant roles from Emily Watson (BREAKING THE WAVES) and John Hurt (THE ELEPHANT MAN). Cave's screenplay is tight and focused, leaving little room for sentiment--or anyone for the audience to root for--by giving all his principal characters plenty of grimly undesirable personality traits. But it works perfectly, and in Winstone and Pearce, Hillcoat got his casting exactly right. Both actors give dizzying performances as two men unable to escape their personal demons, finding a tragic outlet only in ceaseless acts of aggression. A memorable feature that lingers long after the last frame of celluloid has flickered onto the screen, THE PROPOSITION establishes Hillcoat as a director of major gravitas.
Emily Watson, Guy Pearce, Ray Winstone, John Hurt, David Wenham, Danny Huston, Richard Wilson, Tom Budge
"Cleverly entwining Australia's colonial history with the Western's mythic structure of betrayal and revenge....Huston in particular is chillingly convincing."
Sight and Sound
5 stars out of 5 -- "The film is shot by Benoit Delhomme, who captures the cruel beauty of the Outback, while the score is a mixture of traditional folk and atmospheric instrumentals. The acting is exceptional..."
"There is something heavy and monumental about the way Mr. Huston takes up film space, which makes a nice counterpart to the otherworldly Mr. Pearce....Both actors are memorable..."
New York Times
4 stars out of 5 -- "[The film] feels startlingly fresh and original....THE PROPOSITION is a startling parable about man's savagery to man."
4 stars out of 5 -- "Cave and Hillcoat add a new flavour to the oldest genre....A violent, yet lyrical frontier tale."
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "[A] movie of startling visuals....[The images] speak potently and startlingly for themselves."
Included in Entertainment Weekly's "Top 10 Films Of The Year" -- "[T]he movie is a dazzle of mood, style, and mythologized history."
4 stars out of 5 -- "It's hard to pick a standout performance from the extraordinary ensemble cast....[With] a premise as morally ambiguous as most of the characters that populate the film..."
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