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Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics What's this?

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8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 61 Ratings

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  • Starring: ,
  • Summary: Set against the harsh and unforgiving landscape of the 1880s Australian outback, The Proposition is a visually stunning tale of loyalty, revenge and the quest for justice in a land without rule. (First Look Pictures Releasing)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 75
    A sweat-slicked, near-abstract ballet of blood and sand.
  5. 75
    The Proposition leaves you shell-shocked.
  6. 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.
  7. 42
    The sketchily symbolic characters and flat plot just frame an atmosphere of sticky heat and Biblical reckoning.

See all 31 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 28
  2. Negative: 1 out of 28
  1. Mar 11, 2013
    10
    A well-paced, violent and hard-edged western; it has the classic vengeance storyline, but it´s completely different from the other westerns out there. Very gritty script, brilliant performances, flawless cinematography. Coupled with a heart-rending score, this movie comes as close as they do to perfection. Expand
  2. May 8, 2011
    9
    Beautifully shot, impeccably acted out, cohesively written and a cast worthy of box office stardom but it's modesty is almost immaculate. The film's subtle underlying message is clear and is conveyed without adrenaline-inducing violence but in an odd sense, poetic, almost symbolic, violence. However, though a thorough story and excellently executed, it's lack of action, for a western, leaves a minor gap in the movie. Not to say that's a bad thing... Collapse
  3. Aug 5, 2012
    9
    Directed by John Hilcoat and written by iconic Australian musician and novelist Nick Cave (the two have previously collaborated, on 1988's "Ghosts... Of The Civil Dead"), The Proposition is a gritty and unflinching modern western set in rural Queensland in the 1880's. The film opens with a furiously chaotic shootout, bullets ripping through the tin shack where bushranger brothers Charlie and Mikey Burns are holed up following the rape and murder of a local family. The brothers are swiftly overwhelmed and captured by British expatriate Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone). Stanley is not satisfied with his victory, however, because the real villain remains at large - Athur, the eldest and most dangerous Burns brother is hiding in the ranges with the remainder of his posse. Rather than simply imprison them both, the captain presents Charlie with an ultimatum - track down and slay Arthur within nine days, or Mikey will hang from the gallows on Christmas day. It's a swift and effective introduction, giving us a telling taste of the violence and desperation that fill the rest of the film. Charlie locates his brother with ease, but gathering the courage and willpower to murder family is another matter. Arthur (Danny Huston) is an intellectual psychopath, quoting poetry and philosophising on life while carrying out brutal and heinous crimes. His eccentric personality and unflinching taste for extreme violence have developed for him a near-mythical legend status, and neither the local police nor the aboriginal tribesman are willing to hunt him down. Huston's brilliant performance is as charasmatic as it is unnerving, and is one of the highlights of the film. The bond between Arthur and the other posse members is unbreakable - the very definition of "mateship". As a result, he is fiercely determined to free Mikey and seek revenge on Stanley, and in no way suspects the impending betrayal from his brother.

    Back in town, Captain Stanley faces his own dillemna - businessman Eden Fletcher, who all but owns the local law enforcement, has demand that Mikey receive one hundred lashes a preemptive punishment for his crimes. Stanley knows that the ordeal would surely kill the boy, and in doing so nullify his agreement with Charlie and bring down the wrath of the remaining gang members. It's a harsh and uncomprimising narrative - can Stanley resist the bloodlust of the townsfolk and stay true to his moral code while still managing to bring about justice?

    The performances are exemplary, the entire cast potraying their characters with comfortable ease. The Proposition is filled with a vast array of minor characters, mostly crude and cruel men who are as much a product of the harsh country as they are of their convict backgrounds.

    Cave's script is tight and focused, the dialogue spot-on. The score, also written and performed by Cave with the assistance of violinist Warren Ellis, is unusual but highly effective, filled with murmering whispers and bleak soundscapes. The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking, perfectly capturing the achingly beautiful landscape with wide, open shots. These elements come together to create a realistic insight into colonial Australia, perhaps the most accurate recreation to date.

    The Proposition has been praised for its cynical but accurate potrayal of white/aboriginal relations in colonial Autralia; the white townsfolk treat the aboriginals in an extremely patronizing and condenscending manner. The racial juxtaposition is perhaps best exemplified by Captain Stanley's property - a fenced-off recreation of traditional (and relatively luxurious) English housing that greatly contrasts with the sorrounding countryside. The colonists are stubborn intruders, attempting to bring "civilization" to the vast land and in doing so destroying a rich and unique culture formed over thousands of years. A refreshing take on the dying western genre, The Proposition is so vigorously paced, so shocking in its violence and so beautifully shot that it demands the viewer's full attention. I can't recommend this one enough.
    Expand
  4. Jan 19, 2013
    8
    The Outback, as well as "The Proposition", is just as punishing and unforgiving as the men who roam it, and savagely entertaining. The film takes all the familiar ingredients of the Western with an Aussie spin, but unlike typical Western movies, it's dark, gritty, downbeat, and brutally violent. Set in rural Australia in the late nineteenth century, Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) is a criminal living in the outback. He and his two brothers, Arthur (Danny Huston) and Mikey (Richard Wilson), are outlaws wanted for rape and murder. Arthur is a violent and dangerous cold-blooded sociopath, much more so than his siblings. The authorities capture Charlie and Mikey after a bloody shootout, and the brothers are handed over to Capt. Stanley (Ray Winstone), a British lawman sent to Australia to help bring order to the colonies. Capt. Stanley's proposition to Charlie is to gain pardon and - more importantly - save his beloved younger brother Mike from death by finding and killing Arthur within nine days in this brutal, scathing, hard-edged Western. Charlie scours the backwaters of Australia, but isn't certain if he can carry out his mission. Captain Stanley is intent on taming Australia: he has been forced to move there with his delicate wife, Martha Stanley (Emily Watson), and apparently wants to make it an appropriate place for them to live. Bringing a bit of Britain to the Outback, trying to civilize and structure the grueling landscape, attempting the impossible. Note the well kept, modern home with the white picket fence in middle of the relentless Outback, completely out of place and downright comical. A movie you cannot turn away from; it is so heartless and uncompromising, filled with disregard to innocence and civility. More blood is probably spilled in "The Proposition" than any Western I've ever seen and, and director John Hillcoat's lofty goal is to make art from incredible carnage. Men are stomped to death, whipped to their last breath, speared, shot at point blank; I could go on. The strength of "The Proposition" is its relentless moral ambiguity. Characters that would be heroic in more conventional Western movies show their darker sides. It's a tough an uncompromising story, but it's a superbly written, features terrific acting on all fronts with beautiful cinematography capturing the desolate landscape where the strongest survive. Expand
  5. Jul 16, 2014
    5
    This is alright. The cinematography is great and the acting is phenomenal. John Hillcoat is also clearly very talented as a director and it shows here. The setting is perfect for this film and provides a great backdrop for everything. In addition, the story is compelling and really has you hooked from beginning to end. It was hard to look away at times as you awaited what unfolds. The score is also marvelously composed and utilized. However, for me, the film was far too violent. The graphic violence depicted distracted from everything else. A lot of the violence was unnecessary as well, as it did not need to all be depicted. The film is very bleak and depressing, but it did not need to become coated in blood as well. A lot of the violence could have been excluded in favor or other elements that still communicate the overall message. Overall, this one could have been a lot better if it just toned down its over the top violence, which is a shame. Expand

See all 28 User Reviews

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