The Proposition


Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31

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Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    Directed by John Hillcoat, this Aussie feature perfectly re-creates the charbroiled landscapes and cruel psychodrama of the old Sergio Leone westerns, with John Hurt particularly fine as a raging old mountain goat.
  2. 100
    A movie you cannot turn away from; it is so pitiless and uncompromising, so filled with pathos and disregarded innocence, that it is a record of those things we pray to be delivered from.
  3. A pitiless yet elegiac Australian Western as caked with beauty as it is with blood.
  4. In the end, this is a film about retribution and justice within unjust circumstances. Each character has a personal code of honor -- Arthur, Charlie and Capt. Stanley are all given their dignity -- and it's that code that sets the film apart.
  5. Despite perpetual rumors of its demise as a genre, the Western is alive and well in the Australian outback.
  6. It's a terrific, kinetic experience, and it's also a brilliant showcase for a crackerjack ensemble of great actors.
  7. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    A near-masterpiece of mood and menace, and one that deserves to be seen on the largest screen possible.
  8. The Proposition, a beautiful, bloody meditation on justice, family, and the trap of retribution, is in every respect an artful addition to the canon of six-shooter morality tales.
  9. By turns grisly and hallucinatory, The Proposition is one of those grand, mythic Westerns, full of wide-open spaces and dank little hellholes, detestable bad guys and virginal women, laconic lawmen and wary natives.
  10. A fascinating, mythological western.
  11. 80
    Hillcoat and Cave have here found their most fertile ground yet for allegory-rich examinations of life and death in remote, pressure-cooker environments.
  12. 80
    The climactic Christmas Day dinner of dreadful retribution is a terrifying prospect, but for anyone with a yen for our great lost genre, it's also some sort of gift.
  13. 80
    The Proposition is a very hard and harsh movie, but it also has a hypnotic, lyrical velocity. As Arthur, Huston exudes dead charisma.
  14. 80
    It's the kind of movie we don't often encounter these days, and actually never did: A dramatically dense and morally complicated work, it's also a highly pictorial wide-screen entertainment with a dynamite cast, channeling the legacy of John Ford and Sam Peckinpah (and maybe Joseph Conrad too).
  15. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    A visionary tale -- bleak but visionary all the same -- of a fragile civilizing impulse crushed by family loyalty and a lust for revenge in the vast Outback of the late 19th century.
  16. The veteran rock musician Nick Cave wrote the screenplay and John Hillcoat directed, both somewhat in thrall to Sam Peckinpah. The bonds of family are the centerpiece of this highly uneven, hyperviolent film.
  17. A sweat-slicked, near-abstract ballet of blood and sand.
  18. Despite all the violence that ensues, The Proposition is a psychological Western more in the mold of Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" than the John Ford films its stark cinematography resembles. It's about a good man, Stanley, who does bad things, and a bad man, Charlie, fighting his conscience.
  19. A spellbinding Australian Western.
  20. 75
    The Proposition leaves you shell-shocked.
  21. 70
    It is one of those movies--Antonioni's "Red Desert" being the most flagrant example--that spend so much time brimming with moral and political suggestion that they almost forget to tell us what's actually going on.
  22. The cast of The Proposition is reason enough to see the film.
  23. 70
    The Australian director John Hillcoat makes an audacious, unsettling American feature debut with The Proposition, a revisionist western that brings its own brand of sanguinary honesty to the genre.
  24. 67
    There is life to The Proposition, though, and brutal, pitiless life it is. If it breathed more (and if Huston had spoken less), it might have been remarkable. As it is, it's monotonous, grim and uneven.
  25. Huston's performance has a keen edge to it, as do those of the other actors, yet everyone suffers from the same problem -- they're not playing knowable characters so much as thematic points on the broad spectrum of violence.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 77 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 23 out of 29
  2. Negative: 1 out of 29
  1. TimR
    Oct 5, 2006
    You know, the cinematography was impressive, the cast was well placed, and the setting was very tangible. Ray Winstone as Captain Stanley You know, the cinematography was impressive, the cast was well placed, and the setting was very tangible. Ray Winstone as Captain Stanley was, without question, the best part of this film ... his performance and delivery were continually intriguing. This is not to side step the other fine performances, mainly by Guy and Emily. My scoring is mostly due to distaste of the subject was VERY harsh, and very real in how it delivered the evil and disgusting side of sinful man. [***SPOILERS***] Perhaps I should rate it higher than, because it did such a Full Review »
  2. Simon
    May 4, 2008
    One of the most achingly slow and boring films i've sen in a long time, beautifully shot, but cold have been told in 30 mins!
  3. JonathanH.
    Jun 3, 2006
    An excellent film, especially when viewed in a movie house. Visually stunning and a good story too.